Faux Som Tam (Green Papaya Salad)
The first time I tried Som Tam was on an island off the coast of Honduras. A tiny little restaurant with amazing thai food made fresh to order. The flavors were full, rich and fresh.
I had the sudden craving to reproduce the salad and had all the makings for it expect the papaya. Although I’m sure I could’ve found unripe papaya… I didn’t have a time, dinner was quickly approaching.
I would argue that the flavors of the papaya salad do not actually hinge on the papaya, but rather the unripe papaya acts much more as a vessel for the dressing and herbs bright flavors.
I figured I could reproduce it it using another neutral flavored item, so I opted for spiraled zucchini. While not perfectly authentic, this recipe will satisfy your craving for Som Tam, or just be a delicious flavorful and tangy salad if you’ve never tried it before.
Some ingredients here are unique and not necessarily a staple in a kitchen (if you don’t make thai food often) I think a few things could be skipped, but what makes this dish special are the nuanced unique flavor combinations of all the ingredients.
TIP: When looking for shrimp paste – carefully check ingredients, many brands contain MSG and other additives you may not want.
Serving size: 4
Ingredients for Dressing
- Juice of 2 Limes
- 1 Tablespoon of Fish Sauce
- 1/2 Tablespoon Shrimp Paste
- 2 cloves Garlic
- 1 Tablespoon turbinado sugar (Or Palm, or Brown, Etc)
- 1 – 2 Thai Chilis Seeds and Ribs Removed (2 will make it pretty spicy)
- 2 T Water
- 1 Small Shallot (or half a large one)
Ingredients for Salad
(You can mix it up here depending on what you have available)
- 2 Shredded Carrots
- 1/2 a Small Purple Cabbage Shredded
- 4 Small spiralized (or shredded) Zucchini
- 1 Shredded Cucumber
- Optional: Crushed Peanuts/Nuts
- 1 small handful of Mint chopped fine
- 1 small handful Cilantro chopped fine
- Combine all of the Dressing ingredients in a small blender and blend well. Let sit while you prep the rest of the salad.
- Prepare your food processor to shred. Add your carrot, cabbage and Cucumber to the food processor. Add shredded veggies to a glass or non reactive large bowl.
- Add Mint and Cilantro to your large bowl.
- Spiralize your zucchini (or shred if you do not have a spiralizer). Add into the bowl of veggies, combine well.
- Top your shredded veggies with your salad dressing and mix well to combine.
- Let sit for about 10 minutes before serving.