Green papaya salad

Summer soldiers on here in the South. As I continue to sweat, I’m trying to see the bright side: namely, more opportunities to squeeze everything I can out of salad season before soup season takes its place.

If you’ve gone out for Thai, you’ve probably had green papaya salad. Green papayas are crunchy–more substantial than cucumber but more flexible than, say, a carrot. They somehow taste cold. Look for them in Asian or Mexican grocers.

Plus, this dressing. Thai and Vietnamese food often balances four flavors: sour, salty, spicy, and sweet. This dressing does that, and does it well, with lime juice, fish sauce, red pepper flakes, and sugar.

All of this washed down with a cold beer is the perfect antidote to sultry September evenings.

This is a surprisingly filling salad. But if you’d rather pair it with something, I can see it making a great side (or bed) for grilled flank steak or prawns.

Note: you’ll need a julienne peeler for this recipe. I bought mine at the big Asian market in Sydney. But lo, here it is on Amazon, or here’s another available with Prime shipping.


Green papaya salad (serves 6; I doubled and had lunches to share for the week)
Adapted from Bon Appétit

5 tablespoons fresh lime juice (it’s the main ingredient of the dressing–don’t use the stuff out of the bottle!)
3 tablespoons (packed) palm sugar or golden brown sugar
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons fish sauce
4 garlic cloves, minced
healthy pinch of red pepper flakes (do a small pinch, then add to taste)
6 Chinese long beans, halved crosswise, or two huge handfuls green beans
1  1 1/2- to 1 3/4-pound green papaya, peeled
1 pint/punnet of cherry tomatoes, halved
1 bunch chopped fresh cilantro
2 green onions, very thinly sliced
2 tablespoons dried shrimp, chopped (nice, but if you forget it as I did you will survive)
big handful coarsely chopped (roasted and salted, ideally) peanuts

Put first five ingredients in a jar, place lid on, and shake. (Or whisk in a medium bowl.)

Julienne the green papaya. I just start julienning round and round and stop when I hit the spongy part right outside of the seeds. Place in large bowl.

Cook beans in medium saucepan of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Rinse under cold water. Cut into 2-inch pieces.

Add tomatoes, cilantro, green onions, chile, and green beans to green papaya bowl. Pour dressing over; toss. Sprinkle peanuts over and serve.*

*Leftover potential: Dish out servings individually, adding the tomatoes and peanuts just before you eat (or placing them on top of the salad when you pack your lunch in the morning). Dress servings individually, as well, storing remainder of salad and dressing separately in fridge.


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