This salad is very popular in Northeast Thailand as a crunchy, fresh contrast to the region’s rich curries. A typical variation of this salad is called “Som Tum Pbooh,” which is made with salted crab.
5 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 small Thai chilies
1 tablespoon dried shrimp, dry toasted
11⁄2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 clove garlic, crushed and finely minced
6 green beans, trimmed and cut in half
2 cups shredded green papaya*
Juice from 3⁄4 lime
11⁄2 tablespoons palm sugar
2 tablespoons toasted peanuts
2 sprigs of Thai basil, for garnish
Put the garlic, chilies, tomatoes, and green beans in a large bowl. Use a pestle or potato masher to lightly crush/bruise the vegetables. Add dried shrimp, fish sauce, lime juice, and palm sugar to the bowl stir to dissolve the sugar and coat vegetables. Add green papaya and mix well. Plate the salad and garnish with basil sprigs or leaves. Som Tum is also often served with sticky rice and a sliver of cabbage. *Asian markets carry pre-shredded green papaya. To start with whole green papaya, peel and then shred it on the large holes of a box grater, stopping short of the seeds in the center of the fruit. Som Tum Thai (Green Papaya Salad with Dried Shrimp).
If you would prefer a very spicy salad, crush or mince the chilies. For a vegetarian version, omit the dried shrimp and use soy sauce instead of the fish sauce.