How to Make Authentic Thai Papaya Salad in 25 Easy Steps.

5 Min. Read


But the steps ARE super easy and I’m here to kick-start you into your next budding culinary career in Bangkok.

If you’ve ever been to Thailand (Kudos.), then I’m positive you’ve come across the ubiquitous Papaya Salad or Som Tam, a very common Thai dish that is enjoyed by many Thai and many a Non-Thai people all across the globe.

Or most likely you’ve tried it before at your local Thai restaurant that your cousin twice removed kept bragging about and dragged you to.

Or perhaps you’ve never even heard of it before.

And if that’s the case, climb out from under that rock my friend and come grab this food knowledge!

‘Cause Chef Benny B is gonna teach you how to become an expert in making this Tasty Thai Treat in Two minutes.

Are you ready?

Alright, Lagasse.

But first.

What exactly is Papaya Salad?

Papaya salad is a dish that is actually traced back to Laos and the ethnic Lao region in Thailand, Isan. The dish combines the five mains tastes of the region (sour, salty, spicy, sweet and savory) and it shows up a lot in other Thai and Lao recipes, such as Pad Thai and Pad Kra Pao.

These ingredients are (you guessed it): Lime, Salt, Chili, Sugar and Fish Sauce. All of this is then mixed and pounded together with the green papaya to create Som Tam, which literally means “Pounded Papaya”.

(My Cuban friends and family can go ahead and laugh here).

Moving on.

There are actually many kinds of recipes to make Som Tam and many use an array of different ingredients: plums, dried shrimp, eggplant, small crabs, noodles, etc. The recipe that I’m presenting here is simple, delicious and utilizes few ingredients. And quite honestly, it’s one of my favorite things to eat in Thailand.

Alrighty then,

enough backstory.

Let’s get down and make some Thai food.

Yes indeedy Jim.

Let’s start with the ingredient and tool list.

You’ll need:

– 1 Small Unripe Green Papaya

– 2 Plum Tomatoes

– 2 Small Limes

– 2 Cloves of Garlic

– 3-4 Bird’s Eye Chili

– 3 Tbsp. Fermented Fish Sauce

– 1/2 Tsp. Palm Sugar

– 1/4 Tsp. Salt

Sidenote: Obviously this recipe can be altered to match your tastes and preferences. So, if you like something a bit more tart, squeeze in some extra lime juice. Salty? Add another pinch.

Or maybe you’re feeling Boss and like things extra spicy.

Toss another pepper in.

Up to you, you rebel.

Now, for the tools:

– A Knife

– A Cutting Board

– Mortar and Pestle

– Grater (Optional)

– Peeler (Optional)

– Lime Squeezer (Optional)

Ok. Let’s Begin.

Super Boss” Som Tam Recipe

Step 1

First we halve the limes and chilies and cut the plum tomatoes into quarters. Set those to the side.

Step 2

We then peel the Papaya skin and with your knife in a light chopping motion make cuts into the Papaya (the picture below shows the technique). We then slice off the bits into julienne slices and set to the side. Do this repeatedly until the papaya is finished. This is the method I always see the Thai vendors use but you can also use a grater, which works great. Or greater.

Step 3

With the mortar and pestle crush the garlic cloves. We then add the chilies and plum tomatoes into the mix. Cover the mortar with one hand to prevent any unwanted splashing of unruly chili juice into your eye (you’re welcome). Grind that a bit and squeeze in the juice of the two limes into the mortar along with one half of the used lime. Add the salt, sugar and fermented fish sauce and stir it all together.

The fish sauce brand that I have pictured above is called “Nai Pon” and is the #1 fish sauce here in Thailand, or so all my Thai friends keep telling me. If you can get your hands on it, nice. If not, any other decent fish sauce will do the trick.

Almost done…

We now add the julienned green papaya.

Stir it up all together a bit and…


A Simple, Clean, Healthy, Refreshing Papaya Salad to put some pep in your step and help you make better life decisions.

Serve on a plate and enjoy the deliciousness of Som Tam alone or with your friends.

Most likely alone, since you’re supposed to be on quarantine buddy.


Feel free to reach out to me and let me know if you enjoyed this post or if you’d like to see any of your favorite Thai or Asian recipes. I’d love to hear from you!

Also, stay safe and stay in tune for new posts about Cambodia and Angkor Wat later this week!


Ayutthaya: The ancient Capital

5 Min. Read

It was May 11th, and I had just arrived to Ayutthaya from Bangkok by the local train. It was 4:20pm and I begin my walk from the station down a road with some small stores and restaurants on both sides. It was hot and the sweat immediately started to trickle down my back as soon as I stepped into the sun.

I walk up to a dock by a brown river and look across. I wasn’t quite sure but the city center seemed to be just on the other side. I didn’t see any boats but I did see a bridge to the left of me in the distance and wondered if I had to cross it. I backtrack and decide to eat something first.

I sit down in a patio restaurant and was greeted by a Thai woman that wasn’t too welcoming. I sit, say hello in Thai and she plops a menu in front of me. I flip through it looking at the pictures but before I even order, I saw a western girl sit at a table right behind me. She was skinny with long brown hair and was wearing a trucker hat. Something about the way she dressed told me that she was American and I just had to know.

I turned around and said hello to initiate some small talk. She spoke English with a slight accent and was quite friendly, so I asked if she wanted to join me. She smiles and sits in front of me. Her name was Lauréline and she was from the French part of Switzerland… I was off.

She had large light green eyes and a kind smile. We order some food and talked for a while exchanging pleasantries. I had some Pad Thai and she a Papaya Salad. We pay after our meal and thank the lady whose mood had changed. Lauréline finds out that I didn’t have a place to stay for the night and recommends me the hostel that she was at.

We walk back to the dock and find a brightly painted longboat with a long tail boat shaft coming our way. We pay 5 baht each to get across and on the other side she unlocks a bike that she had by a side street. We stop at a small guesthouse by the river, so I could have a Thai tea but also to ask for pricing on a room, since it looked nice from the outside.

A small Thai lady shows me the private room she had available and it was decent enough but I decided to see Laurélines hostel first.

Lauréline leads me to Allsum Hostel on Bang Ian Road where she was staying. The hostel was very clean and modern, so I paid 400 baht for two nights, which is about $12.70. The place had several floors, some common areas, had breakfast included and even some bikes to rent.

I lock up my bag in my dorm, rent a bike and we went to a popular weekend night market in town. It had just finished raining and it was already dark, so we quickly ride down two long streets, pass some roundabouts and reach the market that was next to some ruins. We lock our bikes under some trees in the front and begin to walk around.

There was a long stone path that wrapped around a small creek flanked by tall leafy trees with hanging lights on both sides. Along this path there must of been more than a hundred bamboo stalls selling all sorts of very delicious looking Thai street food and delicacies: All kinds of skewered meats grilling over binchotan charcoal, crepes, vegetable curries, coconut desserts, insects, ice creams, teas, sodas and other regional foods I didn’t recognize.

The path was illuminated by the hanging braided bamboo lights which gave the entire area a beautiful glow. All the locals were out and about and some of the young kids would stare at us, as Lauréline and I were the only foreigners there.

The night was warm and everyone was smiling and enjoying themselves. We strolled by a little girl singing Thai pop music on a karaoke machine and other vendors selling handicrafts. They would smile at us and say hello from their stalls, saying “Sawatdee Ka” and giving a slight wai.

I felt that Thai people were friendliest people in the world that night and it gave me a really good feeling about my upcoming journey through their beautiful country. Feeling curious, I walk up to one of the stalls and a buy a semi-sweet coconut dessert that was green in color. It came in eight pieces and it was delicious but kind of chewy.

I share some with my new friend and we talk back in forth in English and in some French. Her English was quite good but at times she would have to say some words in French, which I would understand…despite my mediocre command of it.

We reach the end of the long path and ended up at a small square. There we saw some teenagers dressed in classical Thai costumes performing a show depicting an ancient Siamese battle with warriors, kings and demons which was very entertaining. They all fought against each other with swords and had elaborate make-up. One even startled everyone by quickly drawing a pistol that let out a very loud and unexpected bang. One side emerged victorious and the crowd gave a hearty applause after they all bowed.

We leave the square the same way we came and then bike back to the hostel in the dark. We stay up and chat for a while before calling it a night. Lauréline was to leave the next day and I had plans to see the town. I had read that the historic city of Ayutthaya was once the capital of the Siamese kingdom and I wanted to learn much about it.