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Tum som Isaan

Australian Gourmet Traveller recipe for Tum som Isaan

By Lisa Featherby
  • 20 mins preparation
  • Serves 4
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Tum som Isaan
This shredded papaya salad is popular in the north of Thailand. In Isaan, preserved black soft-shell crab is sometimes added; you can buy it frozen from Thai grocers. This is great served with gai yang and steamed sticky rice.


  • 5 red birdseye chillies, or to taste
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 small green papaya, shredded
  • 6 snake beans, cut into 6cm lengths, plus extra to serve
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tbsp ground preserved fish sauce
  • Juice of 4 limes, or to taste
  • 60 ml fish sauce, or to taste (¼ cup)
  • 30 gm light palm sugar, crushed
  • 2 tbsp dried shrimp
  • To serve: roasted peanuts (optional)


  • 1
    Pound chilli and garlic in a large wooden mortar and pestle (see note) to a paste. Add papaya and beans and pound to combine, folding mixture over with a large metal spoon as you go. Add remaining ingredients, pound and fold to combine, add peanuts, adjust seasoning to taste (should taste hot, sour and salty) and serve.


Note A traditional large wooden mortar and pestle is used for this recipe and is available from some Asian grocers. If unavailable, use a large bowl and a muddle stick.
Drink Suggestion: Aromatic young off-dry riesling. Drink suggestion by Max Allen