Monday, 30 November 2009

Green Papaya Salad Two Ways

I have seen so many food shows making gorgeous looking Thai salads using green papaya and they look so fresh and crisp, but I had never tried it myself. I just had never come across it either prepared on a menu or in a store to be purchased. I googled it many a time, but I honestly had never seen it before.

Then I attended a Lao-Thai cooking class at the James Street Cooking School and one of the recipes was a lovely spicy green papaya salad served with crispy marinated pork neck. I saw and tasted green papaya for the first time and I liked it, even though the instructor said that the salad tasted better when made with green mango. Then, while shopping at the James Street Market I just happened to be wandering past the fruit section when they brought out a tray of halved green papayas. They were quite expensive compared to the other fruit, but I really wanted to try out some recipes so I bought some.

On the way home from this very exciting shopping trip we stopped at a local Asian supermarket to pick up some other ingredients and in their produce section we found not only green payaya much cheaper and fresher than what I had bought at James Street but they also had green mango. I bought some more and headed home to make some salad.

The green payaya salad from the cooking class wasn't the only green payaya salad to have caught my eye.

Recently I picked up a new cookbook Essentials of Asian Cooking by Chuck Williams/Farina Kingsley. It's really cool, with lots of fresh new recipes and masses of Asian flavours. There's really interesting explanations and backgrounds at the beginning of each section and large beautiful photos. I've tagged so many recipes to try that I ran out of tags and had to improvise.

I did have some problems shredding my green papaya. My mandoline just wasn't cutting it. This isn't the first problem I've had with my mandoline, so in a fit of temper I threw the whole thing out. Calming down, I improvised by using a vegetable peeler to make thin strips and then using a sharp knife to cut long, thin strips. It took a long time, but it turned out quite well.

The two salads couldn't be more different in their final taste. The first salad makes a paste with shallots, garlic and sugar which is then mixed with rice vinegar, fish sauce, lime juice, Sriracha chile sauce and oil. The second salad makes a paste with garlic, salt, chillies, peanuts and dried prawns and then mashes that paste with lime, cherry tomatoes and snake beans with palm sugar, fish sauce, lime juice and tamarind water only used to season.

I found that the first salad was much lighter but was much gentler in its flavour. I'd cut back on the Sriracha but next time I'd add more chilli. The second salad was packed full of flavour and tasted even better the next day, except I added too much garlic and made the second salad death to any vampire in a ten kilometre radius, not to mention it was quite embarrassing to try and eat it in front of my office-mate. Luckily, he likes garlic, but I still couldn't bring myself to finish it.

Green Payaya Salad 1
adapted from Essentials of Asian Cooking by Chuck Williams/Farina Kingsley

1/2 green payaya
1/2 carrot
2 shallots, thinly sliced, plus 1 tbs chopped
1 red chilli, seeded and cut into thin rings
2 tbs chopped fresh coriander
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tbs rice vinegar
2 tbs fish sauce
1 tbs lime juice
1 tsp Sriracha chile sauce
1 1/2 tbs canola oil

Shred the papaya and the carrot into long thin strips. In a large bowl, combine the papaya, carrot, sliced shallots, chilli and coriander and toss gently.

Combine the chopped shallot, garlic and sugar and process in a food processor or using mortar and pestle until a smooth paste forms. Add 1-2 tbs water if needed. Transfer the paste to a bowl and whisk in the vinegar, fish sauce, lime juice and chilli sauce. Gradually drizzle in the oil while continuing to whisk.

Pour the dressing over the papaya mixture and toss to coat thoroughly. Refrigerate for at least two hours or up to overnight before serving.

Green Papaya Salad 2
adapted from James Street Cooking School

2 garlic cloves (this was too much for a halved recipe, go for 1)
Pinch of salt
1 red chilli
1 tbs roasted peanuts
4 cherry tomatoes, quartered
4 green beans, cut into 1cm lengths
1 cup shredded green papaya
1 tbs palm sugar
1/2 tbs lime juice
1/2 tbs tamarind water
1/2 - 1 tbs fish sauce

Pound garlic with sald and chilli in a pestle and mortar. Add peanuts and pound into a course paste. Add cherry toamtoes and beans to the mortar and gently mash together. Add green papaya and bruise. Season with palm sugar, lime juice, tamarind water and fish sauce.


  1. How do you suppose this salad would go without the garlic? I realise this is sort of like trying to make mashed potato without the potato, but I have really gone off arlic these days - both the taste and the 'death to vampires' effect the next day.... What do you think?

  2. It definately would work without the garlic. I did find it quite an overpowering flavour. The other flavours are so well balanced that it will still be awesome.