Som tam, green papaya salad, is probably the most popular dish in Thailand. The dish likely originates in northeastern Thailand, or perhaps Laos, but can now be found in virtually every corner of the country. It’s equal parts cheap, spicy, quick and satisfying, leaving little wonder why it’s become so popular.
However when a dish reaches this ubiquitous and iconic status, the most natural next step is to change it somehow. This has already begun to happen to Thailand’s beloved som tam. The most recent twist I encountered at a small cafe/resturant in Nan was deep-fried som tam (pictured above).
The papaya actually appeared to be more dried than deep-fried; there was none of the oiliness or sogginess typically associated with deep-fried…papaya. There was some regular shredded green papaya thrown in, as well as some carrot and the usual tomatoes, peanuts, long beans and other seasonings. Like a good som tam should be, the dish was satisfying and refreshing, but had the added benefit of being super crispy. The only real downside I could find would be the addition some overly-sweet dried fish.
Th Sumonthewarat, Nan