Papaya Salad (Som Tum)




Papaya Salad (Som Tum)

"This is one of the most popular salads in Thai cuisine. Each family has their own way of making it, and my mom was no exception." - Chef Nuit Regular


  • 1/4 green papaya , about 250g
  • 3 tbsp Thai fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 tbsp tamarind paste , (can also use store-bought)
  • 3 unpeeled Thai garlic cloves , or 1 peeled regular garlic clove
  • 1 to 3 fresh bird's eye chilies , (adjust according to your spice preference), stems removed
  • 3/4 tsp yard-long beans , trimmed and cut into 1-in. pieces
  • 1/4 cup unsalted roasted peanuts
  • 9 cherry tomatoes , cut in half
  • 1/4 cup large dried shrimp
  • 3 wedges of green cabbage , sliced thick
  • 9 fresh sawtooth coriander leaves


  • Using a peeler, peel green papaya. Using a knife, cut off and discard the top 1 in. at the stem end. Cut papaya in half and, using a spoon, scrape out and discard seeds. Wash papaya and pat dry. If you have a zigzag (julienne) peeler, use this to scrape the flesh of the papaya into shreds about 3 in. long. Otherwise, julienne papaya to the same length. You should have about 1 cup of prepared green papaya. Set aside.
  • In a small bowl, combine fish sauce and coconut sugar. Stir well until sugar fully dissolves. Be patient—this will take a few min. Add lime juice and Tamarind Paste, and stir. Set aside.
  • Using a stone mortar and pestle, grind garlic to a paste. Add chilies and lightly bruise for a mild to medium spice. If you prefer more spice, grind until chilies break into small pieces. Add yard-long beans and pound to bruise. Add pea- nuts and pound to a coarse powder. Add tomatoes and lightly bruise. Add fish sauce mixture and green papaya, and pound to mix. Be careful not to overly bruise. Add dried shrimp and, using a large spoon, mix well. Transfer to a plate. Serve with cabbage and sawtooth coriander.

The recipes in Chef Nuit Regular’s cookbook, Kiin, encompass her cooking life in restaurant kitchens and beyond: some of her restaurants’ biggest hits. The pad Thai noodles she used to make and sell in little plastic baggies for extra income as a student. The birthday curry her mother made every year. This papaya salad — the list goes on (and you’re going to want to try it all).

Excerpted from Kiin by Nuit Regular. Copyright © 2020 by Nuit Regular. Photography copyright © 2020 by Michael Graydon and Nikole Herriott. Published by Penguin Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.