som tam with prawns 4

Tasty Thai Som Tam Recipe (With Excellent Papaya Substitute!)

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Som Tam is an extremely popular and well known spicy Thai salad that is enjoyed by people all over the world. Unfortunately for many of us, obtaining good quality ingredients for Thai cooking can be challenging. We have found that where we live, one of the more difficult ingredients to obtain is papaya. When we do find it, is often too ripe and as such the wonderful texture and crunchiness of som tam is lost. This is why we have started using the humble swede as our super papaya replacement! It has the perfect texture, colour and taste to be used as a stand in for papaya. In fact, I am confident enough to say that once you have tried som tam made with swede, you will no longer bother looking for papaya again!

Preparation Time
Cooking Time
Serving Size


som tam ingredients list

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  • 100g of prawns
  • 130g of grated swede
  • 5 cherry tomatoes (baby tomatoes are fine too)
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 3 bird eye chillies (or more or even less, depending on your tolerance of spice)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 5 strings of green beans cut into quarters
  • Handful of roasted cashew nuts

Special Cooking Equipment Used

Cooking instructions


Step 1: Boil the prawns until pink and cooked (if you are using raw prawns)

boiled prawns for som tam

Step 2: Whilst the prawns are boiling, peel and grate approx 130g of swede, cut 5 strings of green beans into quarters and trim the ends, and peel 1 clove of garlic

grating the swede for the som tam

Step 3: Put the garlic, chilli, 1 of the green beans (i.e 4 pieces of quarters) and a pinch of the grated swede into a mortar and pestle, and grind until the ingredients are broken down. (you add the swede to stop the seeds of the chilli bouncing out of the mortar)

crushing the garlic chilli in mortar and pestle

Step 4: Now that the chilli and garlic is crushed, you should add the rest of the swede and the green beans, and crush until the green beans are flattened.

Adding the grated swede for som tam

Step 5: Cut the tomatoes in half, and add to the mortar, and break them down.

Step 6: Now add the prawns, fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, and peanuts and crush and mix everything together for a few minutes.

som tam in mortar and pestle

  • som tam with prawns 3
  • som tam with prawns 4
  • som tam with prawns 5
  • som tam with prawns 2

Give the recipe a try using swede and let us know what you think? Can you tell the difference?

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