Thai & Vietnamese

Green Papaya Salad

What do you do with a green papaya? Make this refreshing Thai-style salad with green beans, tomatoes, basil and a delicious vinagrette.

It doesn’t take much to amuse me. Happening upon exotic fruits and vegetables could be the highlight of any day. Last weekend we were returning home from downtown and took a turn down a street with a large Asian population. The veggie stores cater to them and it’s the only place I know of in Barcelona to get such exciting vegetables as bitter gourd, snake beans and long purple eggplant. So imagine my delight to find, for the first time, green papaya! I’d never seen one in real life before, but I’m very familiar with them from watching Thai and Vietnamese cooking shows. Green papaya salad seems to be a must-make for anyone presenting a Southeast Asian cooking show.

What do you do with a green papaya? Make this refreshing Thai-style salad with green beans, tomatoes, basil and a delicious vinagrette.

So what’s a green papaya, anyway? Well, just like the name, it’s an unripe green papaya (duh). Once you’ve peeled the skin, you’ll find firm, white flesh which is crispy and almost tasteless, making it the perfect vehicle to absorb the delicious sweet-sour-spicy-salty dressing. First the papaya is shredded, then mixed with bruised green beans, tomatoes, herbs, nuts and tossed with the dressing.

What do you do with a green papaya? Make this refreshing Thai-style salad with green beans, tomatoes, basil and a delicious vinagrette.

The Thais have a special papaya-shredding tool, but if you (like me) don’t, you can use a box grater, mandoline, or stab it all over with a knife. I can’t explain that last technique to you in words so I recommend watching this video and skipping to the end to see how it’s done. The result is a fresh, summery salad with the perfect balance of all the flavours. If you’re lucky enough to find a green papaya while wandering through town, try this salad!

Green Papaya Salad

Green Papaya Salad

Yield: Serves 4 - 6
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

A fresh, crisp Thai-style salad featuring green papaya and the perfect balance of flavors!

Ingredients

  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 bird´s eye chili or other hot chili (adjust to taste)
  • Juice of 4 limes
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons palm sugar (can substitute brown sugar)
  • 1 medium-sized green papaya
  • A handful of green beans, topped, tailed and cut into 3 cm (1 1/4 inch) pieces
  • 200 grams (7 oz) cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • A handful of fresh cilantro or Thai basil
  • Peanuts or cashews, roughly chopped, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Shred the papaya using either a grater, mandoline, papaya shredder or a knife using the technique shown in the video above.
  2. Smash the garlic and chili in a mortar and pestle to make a paste. Combine in a bowl with the lime juice, soy sauce and palm sugar. Whisk to dissolve the sugar. Taste and adjust ingredients for a good balance of sweet, sour, salty and spicy. Set aside.
  3. Bruise the green beans slightly with a pestle or something heavy. In a large bowl combine the shredded papaya, green beans and tomatoes, squeezing the tomatoes slightly to release some of their juices. Mix through some cilantro or Thai basil and pour over the dressing. Toss to combine and serve garnished with chopped nuts.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 388Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gSodium: 1489mgCarbohydrates: 46gFiber: 7gSugar: 26gProtein: 16g

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