Som tum is one of my favorite flavorful meals when I'm dieting or simply just want to eat something light and fresh-tasting. It is sold at a majority of Thai restaurants and is packed with an incredible amount of flavor for such a simple dish.
In Thailand, som tum is usually made with a mortar and pestle, which I would probably still recommend. If you don't have a mortar and pestle, don't worry. You can easily use a wooden spoon to 'smash' what you need to and a spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl and move it back down.
Also, this recipe is traditionally not vegan, but can easily be made vegan with a few adjustments. I indicated simple substitutions in the list of ingredients. The flavor won't be much different either way!
Som Tum, Green Papaya Salad
5 cherry tomatoes
2 Thai chili peppers
1 tablespoon dried shrimp (Vegan: Omit this ingredient.)
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce (Vegan: Substitute with equal amount of soy sauce.)
1 clove garlic
6 green beans
2 cups shredded green papaya (Many Asian supermarkets sell shredded green papaya and that is what I use. However, if you need to work with a whole green papaya, follow the directions below.)
1 1/2 tablespoons palm sugar
2 tablespoons toasted peanuts
1) Peel and shred the papaya using a papaya shredder or a regular cheese grater with medium to large sized holes. When you get closer to the center, you will see the white immature seeds inside. Stop and move onto another part of the papaya. Discard any seeds that got into your bowl. If you have a food processor with grater, you can shred the papaya faster.
2) In a small to medium-sized bowl, smash a clove of garlic. Then add green beans and halved cherry tomatoes. Pound with a sturdy spatula a few times just to bruise the beans and get the juice out of the tomatoes. Add chili peppers and crush them just enough to release the hotness, unless you like your salad really hot. Add the green papaya, dried shrimp (optional), toasted peanuts, fish sauce (or soy sauce), lime juice and palm sugar. Mix well.
3) Serve with sticky rice and a sliver of cabbage, green beans, and Thai basil.