Som Dtam - Green Papaya Salad

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Jade Emperor

Senior Cook
Joined
Apr 12, 2023
Messages
398
Location
Australia
Hey there! Does anyone else make this and love it as much as I do? It’s a very popular Thai dish, and again, many regional variations. I always warn people that it is HOT! I’ve tried to keep the heat down when I know that some of my guests will find the heat of my traditional recipe too confronting, but it’s just not the same.
While it’s a hot tasting salad, it’s oddly refreshing even when it’s hot outside.
Let me know if you would like me to post the recipe 🫠
 

thymeless

Sous Chef
Joined
Aug 12, 2006
Messages
638
I've enjoyed it from the neighboring cuisines that aren't quite so spicy hot as thai. Do you do anything different from the norm? I've seen some people say to substitute green apple or green mango as papaya can be tricky to find some places. Do you have a recommended substitute you like?
 

Jade Emperor

Senior Cook
Joined
Apr 12, 2023
Messages
398
Location
Australia
I have fairly good access to green papaya, but I have tried it with green apples and oddly, carrots. Both not bad, at a pinch.
The main takeaway here is that you want to use substitute that gives you the texture and doesn’t have a strong taste, because the idea is for the papaya to absorb all the different flavours of the dressing.
Certainly the variations from Laos and Cambodia for example have less chilli and often use shrimp paste and crab paste, no tamarind water. These are often more popular amongst the western palates, so you can try both to see which you prefer.
 

thymeless

Sous Chef
Joined
Aug 12, 2006
Messages
638
The one I liked best was at Viet Chubby Boy near the Bishop museum in Oahu.
 

pepperhead212

Executive Chef
Joined
Nov 21, 2018
Messages
4,607
Location
Woodbury, NJ
I love Som Tum, and have posted a number of times about it. Here's one of the times:

I have made milder versions of it, for friends, using milder peppers I grow. Actually, Thai "bird" peppers really don't have that much flavor, just heat, and I use Thai Vesuvius and Thai Dragon in place of Thai birds - still very hot, but much better flavor, and I use them for many dried peppers in Chinese, Korean, and Indian, when I want heat and flavor. But there are much milder ones with a similar flavor, for those who don't want intense heat.

And as I noted on the post above, kohlrabi is delicious as a substitute for the green papaya, and more readily available. Jicama is even closer, and I've tried a few other things, but the kohlrabi is the easiest to grow, and mildest. I used to make it so often (along with some other Thai dishes using these, like Pad Thai) that I bought crushed peanuts in 5 lb bags, and vacuum seal recipe amounts of them, and froze them.
 

thymeless

Sous Chef
Joined
Aug 12, 2006
Messages
638
And the best shredding techniques?

Julienne Peeler?

I watched them do it in the hand recently on an Uncle Roger video, which usually drifts NSFW and probably same for here. They just tapped into the fruit in the hand with the asian cleaver in roughly parallel cuts, made a thin shaving cross cut. repeat. I'm not comfortable with that I don't think.
 

Jade Emperor

Senior Cook
Joined
Apr 12, 2023
Messages
398
Location
Australia
I use the same technique as seen in the Uncle Roger weejeo (love him!) and you can also see it done by a fierce old Thai lady on Luke Nguyen’s show.
 
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