Green Papaya Salad is popular in a lot of places in Southeast Asia; we found it in Northeast Thailand, Vietnam and Laos.
This particular recipe is from my Laos Cooking Class. The papayas used for this salad are a different variety from the regular dessert papayas; they are green, larger, hard and slightly sour. To add to the sourness, lots of lime juice is used as well – the Laos people love everything sour!
- one green papaya*, shredded
- juice of one lime
- 1 clove garlic, mashed
- 1 little red chile, crushed
- 6 cherry tomatoes, chopped
- 1/4 tsp. fish sauce
- 2 tsp. sugar
- 1/2 tsp. shrimp paste
Everything except the papaya is mashed together in a mortar with a pestle. The last three ingredients can be adjusted to taste for the salt/sweet component. You can remove the seeds from the chile if you don’t like the heat. Serve with sticky rice.*Long Asian beans, green Granny Smith apples and carrots can all be used instead of green papaya. If using the beans, they are not cooked but instead pounded in the mortar after all the other ingredients have been pounded, resulting in a slightly liquid salad.
Half-ripe papaya for sale in the market in Vietnam. Shredding green papaya in the market in Hoi An, Vietnam. We can find green papaya salad at home as well. Here is the green papaya salad from the Wimaan Restaurant in Vancouver from my Thai ‘eating’ course featuring the Food of Northeast Thailand. Green papaya salad also showed up for brunch on our cruise through Halong Bay in Vietnam.