• Som tum (Brett Stevens)Source: Brett Stevens

All over Bangkok, food vendors pound together this irresistible combination of green papaya, chillies, fish sauce and lime. Make this salad as tradition dictates with a large mortar and pestle to really amalgamate the flavours.




Skill level

Average: 3.1 (148 votes)


  • 1 large green papaya (see Note) or green mango (see Note)
  • 2 tbsp grated palm sugar
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 2 red bird’s-eye chillies
  • 1 tbsp dried prawns (see Note)
  • 1 tbsp roasted peanuts, plus extra, to serve
  • 4 grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 100 g green beans, cut into 2.5 cm lengths
  • curly lettuce leaves, to serve

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


The dish is designed to be part of a banquet or shared meal.

Finely shred papaya, then soak in iced water. Drain and refrigerate until needed.

Using a large mortar and pestle, pound sugar, garlic and chillies to a rough paste. Add dried prawns and peanuts, and pound until crushed.

Add tomatoes and gently crush. Add fish sauce, lime juice, papaya, and beans, and toss to combine. Spoon papaya salad into lettuce leaves, to serve.


• Available from Asian food shops.
• Dried prawns are from Asian food shops. If using packet dried prawns, as opposed to buying by the scoop, soak for 20 minutes to soften the hard centre.


Photography by Brett Stevens and Katie Kaars.