I absolutely love Thai cuisine, and my go-to dish is always the green papaya salad. It’s the perfect balance of sweet, sour, and spicy, and I’ve been experimenting with making it at home myself.
What is Papaya Salad?
Papaya salad is a popular dish in Southeast Asian cuisine and is made with shredded unripe papaya, mango, cucumber, tomato, garlic, peanuts, and dried shrimp, all tossed in a spicy, sweet, and acidic vinaigrette. It’s not just consumed in Thailand but in neighboring countries as well, such as Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia.
One of my favorite summer (and year-round) meals is this salad. Now, let’s get serious. It’s a wonderful combination of savory, spicy, sweet, and sour flavors and textures, and it’s quite refreshing.
Where to buy Green Papaya? Is there an alternative?
This salad calls for green, unripe papaya, which can be found at Asian or Southeast Asian food stores.
If you can’t locate green papaya in your area, feel free to use other raw vegetables such as shredded cabbage and carrots (found in any slaw mix), finely julienned broccoli stems, jicama, cucumber, or a combination of these!
Also, this recipe doesn’t call for dried shrimp, but if you’d want to add it, here’s how: One tablespoon of dried shrimp should be soaked in boiling water for five minutes before being finely chopped and added to the salad (or the mortar and pestle, if you’re using that).
- 1 green papaya (1kg whole)
- 2-3 cloves of garlic (peeled)
- 2 pcs. of Thai bird chilies
- 1 tbsp. of peanuts (dry roasted/salted, plus more for garnish)
- 1/2 tsp. of salt
- 2 tbsp. of sugar
- 3 tbsp. of fresh lime juice
- 2 1/2 tbsp. of fish sauce (or to taste)
- 4 long beans (cut into 2-lengths)
- 1 medium-sized tomato (cut into small chunks)
- The papaya’s peel should be removed with a vegetable peeler. The papaya can be prepared in various ways, but one of the easiest is to use a julienne peeler to remove thin strips of peel from all sides. You may remove the seeds by slicing the papaya in half. Make julienne sticks out of the papaya using a mandolin or a sharp knife. The papaya strips can be made firmer and crunchier if you soak them in ice water for 15 minutes before serving.
- In the meantime, mince the garlic, bird chilies, and peanuts on a cutting board. Combine with other ingredients in a bowl, including salt, sugar, lime juice, and fish sauce. Alternatively, more traditionally, you can pound these ingredients together to produce the dressing if you have a mortar and pestle.
- Make bruises in the long bean pieces by smashing them with the blade (or with the mortar and pestle, if you have that). Put the tomatoes in the bowl with the dressing.
- The papaya should be thoroughly rinsed before being added to the salad. Combine all of the ingredients and sprinkle with additional chopped peanuts for garnish. Serve.