Green Papaya Salad
30 Min

Green Papaya Salad

A wonderful way to balance holiday indulgences and alleviate the guilt associated with it is to eat something cleansing after. Besides, why not start the year on a fresh healthy note? Green papaya salad, or Som Tum as it is known in Thai cuisine is believed to have originated in Laos. I have never tasted a version of this salad that I don’t love, and I often make a meal out of it. The fact that green papaya has innumerable health benefits like high fiber and vitamin content always helps. But it’s the endless possibilities with this salad that make it most exciting. On a basic level, fresh grated green papaya is tossed with chiles, dried shrimp, palm sugar and fresh garlic. Add grated carrots, cabbage, apple, green beans, cucumber, or mango. The shrimp is delicious but not essential to the flavor; instead throw in copious amounts of grated, finely minced, or julienned ginger. Slice in some tomatoes for the acid, peanuts for crunch with herbs like cilantro or basil for aroma and you have a wonderful salad. Instead of peanuts, add cashews, add sliced almonds, or pine nuts. Switch out sugar for something as wholesome as honey or maple syrup. If you have extra papaya left over, use it in meat marinades as a tenderizer.
Share this recipe
Cook Time

30 Minutes



Step 1
To make the dressing, over high heat on small frying pan, warm the sesame oil and pop the mustard seeds. This will take just a few seconds. Immediately turn the heat off and pull the pan off the stove. Combine with ginger, honey, lemon juice, and salt. Set aside.
Step 2
In a large bowl, combine the papaya, cabbage, serrano, cilantro, and mint leaves and pour the dressing over. Stir for a minute or two then let the salad marinate at room temperature for an hour or so before serving it. Add the pine nuts at the end. Taste for balance.
Step 3
The salad keeps in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days.

4 cups grated or julienned green papaya

1 cup thinly sliced purple cabbage

1 small serrano pepper, minced

1 cup finely chopped cilantro, leaves, and stems

1 loose cup mint leaves

3 tablespoons pine nuts


2 tablespoons sesame oil

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

One 4-inch piece of ginger, peeled and julienned

3 tablespoons honey

Juice of 2 to 3 lemons (or more to taste)

2 teaspoons sea salt

Notes & Variations

  • Green papaya is available at most mainstream grocers and at all Asian, Latin, or Indian grocery stores.
  • To add even more intensity in flavor, add a pinch of asafetida to the oil while popping the mustard seeds.
30 Min

Purple cabbage is so underrated.

Check out these recipes that are so good they'll have you singing "purple cabbage" to the tune of Prince's greatest hit.