My Thai hairdresser in Austin was trimming my hair as we chatted and dreamed about the Thai food we long for. I said I was craving Som Tum, a spicy Thai papaya salad packed with my favorite Thai flavors: spicy, sweet, sour, savory and umami.
I was raving about its amazing texture combo: the crunchy peanuts, and the unripe papaya, tender, but somehow still with a little crunch, baby tomatoes with their juicy red goodness leaking everywhere, pink fresh shrimp, and crisp green long beans.
I bemoaned how hard it is to make Som Tum in America since it’s tricky to find its main ingredient, unripe papaya, not something you can just pick up at your local grocery store, but usually only at an Asian market.
But then my Thai hair dresser said something that blew my mind forever, “Oh! I just make Som Tum with cucumber and carrot! It tastes so good, and is so much easier than having to go to the Asian market to get unripe papaya.”
Carrot and Cucumber Som Tum Recipe
So of course on my way home, I ran into the grocery store, feeling on top of the world with my freshly styled hair and a new Thai dish to try out. I bought some carrot and cucumber, and I couldn’t wait to make Carrot and Cucumber Som Tum that very night.
Then I just pounded the carrots a little in my mortar and pestle to soften them some, and then added all the traditional Thai ingredients: fish sauce, sugar, tamarind paste, lime and peanuts!
And wow, were my Thai Hubby and I so happy that night to have Carrot and Cucumber Som Tum that tasted just as amazing as a traditional Som Tum, but was way easier to find the ingredients for.
I can’t wait to see your Cucumber and Carrot Som Tum! Tag me @thaifoodie on Instagram, so I can see your creation!
Love Som Tum, but don’t have any unripe papaya to make it? Try out my Cucumber Carrot Som Tum! All the flavors of beloved Som Tum without the hassle of trying to find unripe papaya!
- 2–5 Thai chili peppers
- 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 1 cup fresh green beans, cut into 2 inch long pieces
- Juice of 2–3 limes, to taste
- 1–2 tbsp fish sauce, to taste
- 2–3 tsp sugar, to taste
- 2 carrots, grated, or peeled with a Thai papaya peeler
- 2 cucumbers, cut into long, thin strips or peeled with a Thai papaya peeler
- 2–3 tbsp tamarind paste, to taste
- 1 cup of baby tomatoes of choice
- 2 cups cooked shrimp peeled with tail-off
- 1/2 cup salted peanuts
Peel the carrots and cucumbers with a Thai papaya peeler, vegetable julienne peeler or mandoline. Or if you are desperate and don’t have any of these, you can cut the veggies with a knife into pieces similar to the ones in the pic.
In your mortar and pestle, pound the garlic and chilies until it becomes a paste. Add in the carrots, green beans, lime, fish sauce, tamarind and sugar to taste.
Pound the beans and carrots until they have softened some, but still hold their shape, and then add in the tomatoes, and peanuts. Use a spoon to scoop up the ingredients on the bottom to get them to the top when pounding. Just pound until the tomatoes’ juice is coming out, but they still hold their shape, and everything is mixed up.
Add the cucumbers, and mix it up. Taste it, and add more fish sauce, lime and sugar to taste. I like to have lime as the leading flavor with a savory, slight sweetness backing it up.
If you are using shrimp, boil them for about 30 seconds until cooked and then mix them up into the dish at the end.
- Prep Time: 10
- Cook Time: 10
- Category: Salad
- Method: Salad
- Cuisine: Thai
Keywords: Thai cucumber and carrot som tum, cucumber som tum, carrot som tum, som stum, Thai carrot and cucumber salad, Thai salad