A fresh mix of sweetness, citrus and salty this Thai salad is much-loved across the country to the extent that songs have been written in tribute to it!




Skill level

Average: 4.6 (39 votes)


  • 1 tbsp dried shrimp
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 4–5 red bird’s eye chillies
  • 50 g (1¾ oz) snake (yard-long) beans, cut into 5 cm (2 in) lengths
  • ½ tbsp roasted peanuts
  • 20 g (¾ oz) palm sugar, melted (see Note)
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 5 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 200 g (7 oz) green papaya, peeled and julienned
  • cooked sticky rice, to serve (optional)
  • grilled chicken , to serve (optional)

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.


  1. Using a large mortar and pestle, coarsely pound the dried shrimp until they start to break apart. Add the garlic cloves and chillies and pound them into a coarse paste, then add the snake beans and peanuts, pounding them until the peanuts have been roughly broken up.
  2. Mix in the palm sugar using the pestle and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the fish sauce, lime juice and cherry tomatoes and use both a pounding and stirring action to combine. Finally, add the green papaya, stirring and gently pounding all the ingredients to mix well.
  3. Check the som tum for seasoning; it should taste sweet, sour, salty and spicy. Adjust the seasoning if necessary and serve with warm sticky rice and grilled chicken, if desired.



• Before mixing palm sugar with any other ingredient, be sure to melt it by warming in a saucepan over low heat until it liquefies.


Recipe and images from Bangkok Local by Sareen Rojanametin and Jean Thamthanakorn, Smith Street Books, RRP $39.99