At most Thai joints, the papaya salad is rarely one of the more memorable plates. Swimming in a cloyingly sugary dressing or wilted beyond recognition, these sub-par salads do nothing to showcase the vibrancy of a truly exemplary Green Papaya Salad. To experience the salad the way it's meant to be enjoyed, we turn to Tom Vandenberghe and Eva Verplaetse, the Thai food-loving co-authors of Bangkok Street Food.
This recipe from Bangkok Street Food comes from years of on-the-street research—that is, loads of spicy-fresh papaya salads made streetside, pounded with a mortar and pestle for optimal enjoyment. Aside from the papaya and a really fabulous dressing of chiles, garlic, and fish sauce, this salad calls for a few other veggies: long beans and Thai eggplant. Finished off with a handful of roasted peanuts and chewy dried shrimp, this papaya salad is tasty on so many levels—crisp, hot, sweet, crunchy, and fishy in the best possible way.
Reprinted with permission from Bangkok Street Food by Tom Vandenberghe and Eva Verplaetse. Copyright © 2010. Published by Lannoo. Available wherever books are sold. All rights reserved.
- 200 grams green papaya (about 1 cup)
- 1 to 2 garlic cloves
- 2 to 5 small bird's eye chiles
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1 to 2 teaspoons palm sugar
- 2 snake beans (long beans), cut into 1/2-inch lengths
- 2 tablespoons roasted peanuts
- 4 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 tablespoons dried baby shrimps
- 1 Thai eggplant, sliced (optional)
- 2 to 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 to 2 tablespoons lime juice
Peel and shred the green papaya. Pound the garlic with chiles, salt, and sugar in a clay mortar with a wooden pestle. Add snake beans, peanuts, tomatoes, dried shrimps and when using Thai eggplant, now is the time.
Keep pounding and mixing simultaneously with a large spoon. Season it with fish sauce and lime. Fold in the green papaya and continue pounding and mixing until the papaya is coated with the dressing.