Som Tam

Som tam is the Thai version of the Laotian dish tam mak hoong and is similar to the Cambodian dish bok l’hong. Pronounced [sôm tam]) and also known as tam mak hoong (Isan: ตำบักหุ่ง, pronounced [tam bàk hùŋ]) is a spicy salad of Lao origin, the standard form of which is made from shredded unripened papaya.

This recipe is my version of these classic dishes.

Start by peeling the carrot, cutting the papaya in quarters lengthways and removing the seeds, and then slice the skin off the mango. Shred the carrot, green papaya and mango into a large bowl using a Julienne shredder /slicer. Add the juice of three limes and half teaspoonful of chopped lime zest. Add a tablespoon of fish sauce (to taste).

Finely chop the ginger, garlic and chillies and mix with the Muscovado sugar using a blender and transfer to a bowl. Add the coriander leaves and the spring onions. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add half of this paste to the marinating carrot, papaya and mango and mix well. Place salad mix in a fridge for 45 minutes.

Five minutes before serving, heat the sesame oil in a wok and add the remaining ginger, garlic, chilli and coriander paste. Stir fry for a minute and then add the prawns and stir fry until they have almost turned pink. Then add the scallops and stir fry for 1-2 minutes – or until the scallops are just cooked.

Add the cooked prawns and scallops to the carrot, green papaya and mango salad and mix.

Sprinkle the crushed roasted peanuts over the salad and serve.


200g of raw prawns (shrimps)
200g of small raw scallops
2-3 inches of peeled fresh root ginger

2-4 fresh red chillies
Muscovado sugar (1 tablespoon)
3 cloves of garlic (peeled)
A pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
Fish sauce (optional)
1 large green papaya
1 large green mango (firm, not too ripe)
1 medium sized carrot
3 limes
Fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves – coarsely chopped (three tablespoons)
Spring onions (6) – coarsely chopped
Sesame oil (2 table spoons)
Crushed roasted peanuts (three tablespoons)




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