Common Som Tum (Papaya Salad) and its variations

Food and Drinks

Som tum ส้มตำ (papaya salad) is a very popular dish in Thailand. There are a number of variations of som tum depending on the usage of ingredients and sauce. Being quite a common and staple dish, homes in Thailand would usually stock up all the required ingredients to make som tum.

Som tum home made

The main ingredient of course would be the scrapped papaya as per below. Sometimes mango or cucumber is used.

Som Tum

Usually, Thai people would make som tum individually for each person. This is to cater for the taste and preference of each individual. Some could not take spicy, some would want more spicy, more sweet/less sweet, some prefer certain ingredients and some who are allergic to seafood would request to omit. For myself, I would take my som tum with 2 chilis, do not take with the crabs and prefer more peanuts. Using quality sauces, the som tum made at home is more hygienic and in my opinion more tasty.

There are many types of som tum variations. After all, our imagination is the limit and you can literally mix and match or replace with other ingredients and the taste would come up to be totally different. Som tum is also usually enjoyed with grilled chicken and gluttonous/sticky rice (khao niao in Thai).

Common Som Tum Variations:

Here are the common som tum dishes that can be found in food court of shopping complexes or restaurants:

Som Tum Hoy Dong

Som Tum Hoi Dong – consists of papaya salad mixed with hoi (shellfish).

Som Tum Pu Ma

Som Tum Pu Ma:  Papaya salad with blue crabs (pu = crab)

Som Tum Ma Muang

Som Tum Ma Muang: Mango papaya salad (ma muang= mango)

Som Tum Pu Pra La

Som Tum Pu Pra La: som tum with crab (pu) and fermented fish (pra la).

Som Tum Ka Pod

Som Tum Ka Pod: Som Tum made from corn (instead of papaya). Ka pod= corn.

Yum Tua Pu

Yum Tua Pu: Wing bean salad with prawns

Yum Ruam Mit

Yum Ruam Mit: Spicy seafood salad

Hope the above is helpful. In the beginning when I find it challenging to order dishes in Thai, going to food courts were helpful so that I am able to see the picture and point to the dish that I prefer. After trying a few variations, you would have an idea of what dishes you like, and after taking note of the name, you would be able to order the dish in about anywhere.

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