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.
- 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.