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Vegan Thai Papaya Salad 🥗

Introducing the irresistible Thai Papaya Salad, a culinary gem that goes by many names—Som Tum or Green Papaya Salad. This vibrant creation, hailed from the heart of Thailand, has long captivated taste buds with its harmonious blend of flavors and textures.

Bowl of Vegan Thai Papaya Salad

Beyond its delightful taste, this salad comes brimming with an array of health benefits, thanks to its star ingredient: green papaya. Bursting with enzymes and antioxidants, green papaya lends not only a refreshing crunch but also a nutritional boost that supports digestion, immune function, and skin health.

Traditionally, this Thai wonder weaves together the crisp allure of green papaya, cherry tomatoes, green beans, peanuts, and the fiery kick of chili and garlic.

Thai papaya salad, known as "Som Tam" in Thai, is not always vegan. Here are some points to consider:

  1. Fish Sauce & Dried Shrimp: Traditional recipes for Som Tam often include fish sauce and dried shrimp, both of which are not vegan.

  2. Substitutes: However, there are vegan versions of the salad which omit these ingredients or replace them with vegan alternatives. For instance, fish sauce can be substituted with soy sauce or a vegan fish sauce made from fermented soy and seaweed.

  3. Other Non-Vegan Ingredients: Some variations of Som Tam might include crab or other seafood elements, so it's important to read the ingredients or ask the chef when ordering in a restaurant.

  4. Regional Differences: There are different versions of papaya salad depending on the region in Thailand. For example, "Som Tam Thai" is a sweeter version often preferred by central Thais, while "Som Tam Lao" or "Som Tam Poo Pla Ra" is more popular in northeastern Thailand and includes fermented fish (pla ra) and can be more pungent.

If you're at a restaurant and want to ensure you get a vegan version of Som Tam, it's essential to specify your requirements. Ask them to omit fish sauce, dried shrimp, and any other non-vegan ingredients. Similarly, if buying pre-packaged or bottled sauces or versions of the salad, always read the ingredient list.

Note: Green papaya can be found in some Asian grocery stores. If you can't find green papaya, you can use firm green mango as a substitute.

Vegan Thai Papaya Salad Recipe

Cook Time: 30min -45min

Servings: 4

Nutritional Information (per serving):
  • Calories: 170

  • Total Fat: 8g

  • Saturated Fat: 1g

  • Cholesterol: 0mg

  • Sodium: 450mg

  • Total Carbohydrates: 24g

  • Dietary Fiber: 5g

  • Sugars: 13g

  • Protein: 4g


For the Salad:

  • 1 small green papaya (about 2 cups shredded)

  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

  • 1/2 cup green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 1/4 cup roasted peanuts

  • 2-3 Thai red chilies, thinly sliced (adjust to your spice preference)

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

For the Dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari (for a gluten-free option)

  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar or brown sugar

  • 1 tablespoon vegan fish sauce or soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

  • 1 teaspoon tamarind paste (optional for tanginess)

Optional Garnish:

  • Fresh cilantro leaves

  • Lime wedges


  1. Peel the green papaya, cut it in half, and remove the seeds. Using a julienne peeler or a grater, shred the papaya into thin strips. Place the shredded papaya in a large mixing bowl.

  2. To make the dressing, whisk together the fresh lime juice, soy sauce or tamari, coconut sugar or brown sugar, vegan fish sauce or soy sauce, vegetable oil, and tamarind paste (if using) in a small bowl until well combined.

  3. Add the halved cherry tomatoes, green beans, roasted peanuts, sliced Thai red chilies, and minced garlic to the bowl with the shredded papaya.

  4. Pour the dressing over the salad ingredients and toss everything together until well-coated.

  5. Taste the salad and adjust the seasoning as needed. You can add more lime juice, soy sauce, or sugar to achieve the desired balance of flavors.

  6. Let the salad sit for 10-15 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld together.

  7. Serve the Thai Papaya Salad garnished with fresh cilantro leaves and lime wedges on the side.

In the delicious dance of sweet, sour, salty, and spicy, our Vegan Thai Papaya Salad truly encapsulates the essence of Thailand in every bite. To all my dear Veginners, trying out this recipe marks a step closer to discovering the vast and delightful world of vegan cuisine. If this dish resonates with your taste buds, please leave a comment below. Your feedback fuels this blog, guiding me towards recipes and content you love. And if you're flaunting your culinary masterpiece on social media, don't forget to tag @VeginnerCooking! Every plate tells a story, and I'm eager to hear yours. Until next time, happy cooking and remember to eat slow and savor every bite! 🌱🥗🌶️🍅🥜🍋🌟

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