Som tum salad, the popular Thai papaya creation, is one of those delights most folks only consume at restaurants. But with a little handy knife work you can make this delicious appetizer in your own kitchen. Wannee Hossain, the culinary talent behind new food truck Phat Thai, shares with us her recipe for this Thai staple. The dish will be featured at the Phat Thai truck, which will be debuting at San Francisco’s Off the Grid this fall.
Recipe courtesy of Wannee Hossain from Phat Thai food truck in San Francisco
one green papaya
one small carrot
one cup green beans
a handful of cherry tomatoes, halved (a couple quartered tomatoes are OK too)
1-3 diced Thai chili, to taste
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon palm sugar
1 tablespoon lime juice
crushed peanuts, to garnish
dried shrimp or crab meat, optional
Remove the green skin of the papaya by hand or with a knife. Using a knife or the large holes of a cheese grater, carefully julienne or shred green papaya and carrot into long matchstick strips. In a bowl, create dressing by mixing garlic, fish sauce, palm sugar, lime juice and Thai chili, to taste. Adjust the ingredients according to how sweet, spicy or tangy you want the dressing to be.
The traditional Thai method calls to mix the shredded papaya and carrot, green beans, tomatoes and dressing in a mortar and pestle. Pound the ingredients until everything is well incorporated (tomatoes should be slightly bruised and soft), but be careful not to pound the ingredients to mush! If a mortar and pestle is not available, toss the ingredients like a regular salad.
Garnish salad with peanuts and dried shrimp or shredded crab meat, if you wish. Salad ingredients can be prepared ahead of time and kept refrigerated and separated until it’s time to eat.