Brian O’Driscoll Cooks Som Tam

Posted on: April 15 2013

The second dish that Brian O’Driscoll cooked in the SABA Cooking Masterclass was Som Tam.

Som Tam is a classic Thai dish. It encompasses all the different elements of Thai flavours – spice from the chillies, sourness from the lime, saltiness from the fish and sweetness from the palm sugar. Although green papaya lacks flavour itself, it mellows the sharpness of the other ingredients and balances the taste. Pounding everything together in the pestle and mortar is also a great stress reliever!

Som Tam*** [c] Thai

Thai Green Papaya Salad

Serves 4 as a starter


300g green papaya, grated

4 garlic cloves

3 bird’s eye chillies

1dsp unsalted, roasted peanuts

6 cherry tomatoes, halved

80g string beans, cut 4cm

2dsp fish sauce

1dsp or 20g palm sugar

2dsp lime juice

50g carrots, grated

20g dried shrimps

2dsp unsalted, roasted peanuts, crushed, to garnish

5g dried shrimp to garnish

Preparation method

Peel the papaya and rinse under running water. Halve, remove the seeds and grate it roughly. Soak in cold water for 5 minutes – this makes it very crunchy and delicious.

Using a big pestle and mortar, pound the garlic cloves, bird’s eye chillies and roasted peanuts to a rough purée. Then add the cherry tomatoes and string beans and pound again but don’t pound the beans and tomatoes too finely. Season with fish sauce, palm sugar and lime juice. Now mix together with the papaya, carrots and dried shrimp and continue pounding until well mixed but still rough.

You can modify the spiciness by increasing or decreasing the amount of bird’s eye chillies or by de-seeding the chillies.

To serve

Garnish with a little dried shrimp and roasted peanuts and serve at room temperature.


•         For a vegetarian option just omit the dried shrimps and use soy sauce instead of fish sauce.