Thursday, January 23, 2014

from our recipe box:: green papaya thai salad

If you're up for venturing into an Asian market to grab a few ingredients, this salad is the perfect pairing to a spicy Thai curry ( like panang!), or a fresh way to add some brightness to a warm winter meal. And come this summer, it's going to be one of my go-to salads to eat with burgers. It's tart, sweet, crunchy and spicy all at the same time.

During Chris' second deployment out of Hawaii, we met up in Thailand. We went zip-lining, held a bear-cat, ate tons of pad thai, and took a Thai cooking class in the kitchen of a tiny Thai cooking school. The cooking class was by far one of my very favorite travel experiences, and the basis of this recipe is from our little cookbook that we got at the end of the class. I've changed it up just a little bit to work with the ingredients that are easy for me to get here in the US. 

Below you'll also see a few ingredient substitutes I've included, if you're having trouble finding some things.

You'll need:: 

One half green papaya (about 2 cups shredded)
4 chopped long beans (or a handful of green beans)
2-6 garlic cloves, depending on your taste!
8 cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
a pinch of red pepper flakes (more or less depending on taste) 
2 tablespoons palm sugar (or 1 tablespoon light brown sugar)
2 tablespoons fish sauce (or lightly salted soy sauce)
2 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons chopped peanuts
lime wedges for garnish

Peel and seed your papaya. Shred with julienne peeler (find it on Amazon here) into a large bowl. 
Peel and shred carrot. Add to the bowl.
Crush the garlic using a pestle and add long beans and tomatoes. Pound a few times to get the juices mixed in. 
Add in the rest of the ingredients (palm sugar, lime juice, fish sauce, peanuts and pepper flakes)
Pound a few times and serve cold! 

A few notes:: 

Some people are really turned off by fish sauce. I promise this does NOT taste fishy, but you can use soy sauce if you wish. 

From what we can tell, green papaya is not necessarily unripe sweet papaya. I think it's a different variety. It's crunchy and mild, as opposed to the sweeter orange variety.

You should be able to find most of these ingredients in your average grocery store, including the fish sauce. You'll most likely have to head to a Thai grocer for the palm sugar and green papaya.

The original recipe calls for small bird's eye chilis for spice. Usually we have to buy those in a big bag if we want to use them, so we substitute red pepper flakes. 


  1. papaya salad is one of my favorite things to get at a thai restaurant but my family are always picky if it's the "right" kind of papaya salad. this recipe looks like it's totally up the "right" alley - so i'm gonna have to try it. thanks, girl! hope you are well! haven't talked to you in ages. :)

  2. A cooking class was also my favorite part of Thailand. Papaya salad was one of my favorite recipes. Yum!

  3. Funny, I actually made my first at home Thai dish on Wednesday. Granted it was no way near as awesome as this one looks, I was quite impressed I was able to find most of the ingredients I needed at whole foods. Would love to try this!

  4. Lindsay! I have a few tips for you :) I spent my honeymoon in Thailand and have found a few helpful things since I got back and started learning how to cook the food here.

    1. There are bins of pre-shredded green papaya at most Asian grocery stores. This will save you so much time and energy! Just look where all the fresh produce is, and it should be by bean sprouts :)

    2. A lot of people who cook Thai food in the states use brown sugar as a substitute for Palm Sugar because it is essentially the same thing.

    3. A mortar will make the mashing easier and really get the garlic smashed well because you can add that extra pressure that's needed to really get it good!

    Hope this is helpful :) I am literally obsessed with Thai food and probably make curry once a week.

    Hope you and your family are well!


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