Chefs' Recipes

David Thompson's green papaya salad

Long Chim and Nahm chef David Thompson shares his take on som dtum, a North-eastern Thailand papaya salad that pairs perfectly with grilled meats.

By David Thompson
  • 20 mins preparation
  • Serves 4 - 6
  • Print
"This classic recipe, som dtum, is from the north-east of Thailand," says Long Chim and Nahm chef David Thompson, "but now every Thai person loves it."


  • 50 gm (about 16) small mixed peeled and unpeeled garlic cloves
  • 90 gm (about 8) small heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 40 gm dried prawns, soaked in cold water for 5 minutes, then drained
  • 80 gm snake beans, cut into 4cm lengths
  • 8-10 small Thai scud chillies, or to taste (see note)
  • 2 heaped tbsp roasted peanuts
  • 1 thin slice lime
  • 360 gm peeled and shredded green papaya (about 2 small)
  • 80 gm light palm sugar, or to taste, crushed
  • 100 ml lime juice (from about 5 juicy limes), or to taste
  • 100 ml tamarind water (see note), or to taste
  • 60 ml fish sauce, or to taste (¼ cup)
  • Large pinch of roasted chilli powder (see note)


  • 1
    Crush garlic, then tomatoes with a pinch of sea salt flakes with a large wooden mortar and pestle, or in a bowl. Add prawns and pound to crush, then add beans, chillies, peanuts and lime, and pound. Add papaya and bruise – do not overwork. Season with palm sugar, lime juice, tamarind water, fish sauce and chilli powder to taste – it should be sweet and sour, hot and salty – and serve.


Scud chillies and roasted chilli powder are available from Thai grocers. To make tamarind water combine 100gm seedless tamarind pulp in a bowl with 100ml boiling water, cover and stand until soft (20-30 minutes), then pass liquid through a fine sieve (discard solids). Drink suggestion by Greg Plowes