Inspite of being an Indian (used to spicy food) the first time I had this salad ''Thai-style'' my eyes didn't stop watering for the whole evening, then needed 1.5 litres of water, 3 antacids and 1 carton of chilled milk to soothe my stomach. Learnt my lesson the harder way of ''NEVER underestimating the Thai spiciness''! These red chillies (birds eye chillies) can fire you up enough to reach the moon and back!
The dish combines the four main tastes of the local cuisine: sour lime, hot chili, salty, savoury fish sauce, and sweetness added by palm sugar.
In Thai, the name som tam, (a reversal of the Lao name), literally translates as "sour pounded".
Traditionally the local variety of green papaya salad in the streets of Bangkok is very hot due to the addition of a fistful of chopped hot Bird's eye chili, however with its rising popularity among tourists, it is often served now not as hot.