Introduction: Super Easy Thai Style Papaya Salad (Som Tam) With Kitchen Leftovers

About: Daughter, wife, sister, mother, and casual hobbyist. I like to read, cook, travel and make things.
Som tam or Thai green papaya salad is an extremely popular dish in South East Asia . Apart from Thailand, it is found in various forms, varieties and names in different countries of the region, like Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.
The 1st time we had this tasty salad, was at a quaint restaurant called BusaGo in Mumbai. It was a lovely place, specialising in South East Asian cuisine with Thai , Burmese Korean dishes. The salad was fresh and crunchy, with a multitude of flavours which just burst into our mouths. You would get a combination of sweet, sour, spicy and salty tastes at any given time. Truly yum!
Since then, I have recreated the salad at home several times on popular demand. Green papaya WAS usually easily available . But this was in the sweet old world BEFORE Corona. As I said before, some things are just not available in the shops nowadays, Period.
What we do get now are melons, in different sizes and colours. Mostly watermelons....huge big ones with a lovely red juicy portion and thick fleshy rind........ So that is what we eat. The red juicy portion is finished off in no time. That leaves me, the frugal housewife, with lots and lots of rind and seeds in hand.
Most people do not know this, but these rinds, so called leftovers, or scrap of watermelon are actually perfectly edible. They are full of fibre, lots of essential vitamins like Vitamin C, Vitamin B6 and A and minerals like Pottasium.
Consuming the rind can lower your blood pressure, keep you hydrated and help in weight loss too.
You can read about the goodness of watermelon rinds here
As they say ' Necessity is the mother of Invention'- and I really needed to be innovative in utilizing these leftovers in some tasty recipe.
The watermelon rind was very similar in texture and firmness to raw papaya and so I decided on making the Thai Som tam, in my way.


The ingredients which I used-
Watermelon rinds- I had 5 large pieces
Watermelon seeds - As many as you want, they are so small !
Garlic - 1 -2 cloves as per taste
Salt and sugar- As per taste
(Traditionally palm sugar is used, but I used normal sugar)
Lime juice - As per taste , you can also use some vinegar, if you don't have lime
Chilli- 1 pc ( Usually a red chilli is used, I used a green one for milder spiciness)
Peanuts- A handful ( To be used dry roasted and mildly crushed)
Any sprouts/ microgreens- Absolutely optional- Just to add some crunchy goodness to your recipe
As I was growing some bean sprouts at home couldn't resist adding a few:)
Thank you Instructable friends for your great tips.
Cheese grater and knife - I used these , you can just use a sharp knife if you want
Please note, traditional Som tam often has other ingredients also, like a few raw green beans, chopped tomatoes, raw mango, small crabs etc. I HAVE NOT added any of these. My recipe is a simple, basic version, to try and innovatively use my kitchen / food scrap in a tasty manner.
Do feel free to improvise and add any traditional/ new ingredient if you want. Either way it would be delicious.
I would love to know how it turned out:)

Step 1: Preparing the Rind

Take out the green thick outer portion (peel)of the rind, so that you are left with the firm white fleshy portion. Use a cheese grater or any other grater.You can also choose to cut it down to small thin slivers. Keep in a bowl.

Step 2: Preparing My Nuts and Seeds

I wanted to use the watermelon seeds also. So I dry roasted them along with my peanuts. We need to crack open the watermelon seeds, like sunflower seeds, in order to extract the juicy kernels. They too are full of goodness and nutritional value.

Step 3: Combining the Salad

Traditionally, green papaya salad is prepared by pounding the ingredients together in a wooden pestle and mortar. But I modified the process by using a small bowl inside a bigger one. Muddle together, the cloves of garlic, piece of chilli, grated watermelon rind, sugar, salt and top it off with lime juice to taste. Keep in the freezer for a few hours to allow all the flavours to mix. Lastly add the roasted and crushed peanuts , watermelon seed kernels and the sprouts, just before serving . Enjoy ! Makes a lovely side dish, salad or snack. Traditionally, Som Tam is had with sticky rice, with grilled chicken on the side , for a complete meal. I use my version as a tasty and healthy accompaniment to my normal lunch and dinner menu.
How would you like to have it? Next time you eat some juicy watermelon, make sure to try out this super easy recipe.
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