Why It Works
- Cabbage, green apple, and carrot stand in for the green papaya more traditionally used, while still hitting those same crunchy, tart, and sweet notes.
- Crushing the garlic and red chili with salt under a knife simulates the effect of a mortar and pestle.
Green papaya salad is a Southeast Asian classic, but that green papaya can be hard to find in many parts of the States. Inspired by the flavors of that salad, but using more readily available produce like cabbage, carrot, and green apple, this salad hits all the same notes without sending you on a shopping wild goose chase.
- 4 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 fresh red bird’s eye chili peppers, seeded and diced (see note)
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons fresh juice from 1 lime
- 2 teaspoons Asian fish sauce
- 2 teaspoons light brown sugar, plus more as needed
- 1/2 head of green cabbage, quartered, cored, and cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 small carrot, julienned
- 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 granny smith apple, halved, cored, and thinly sliced
- 1 cup roasted peanuts, coaresly chopped
Combine garlic and chili one a work surface and sprinkle the 1/4 teaspoon salt on top. Using the side and back of your knife, carefully smash the garlic and chili together to create a paste (see here under "knife-pureeing" for visuals and an explanation of the technique).
Transfer garlic-chili puree to a large mixing bowl and stir in lime juice, fish sauce, and brown sugar. Mix well, taste, and add more sugar if needed.
Add cabbage and toss to coat. Let stand 5 minutes.
Mix in carrot, tomatoes, and apple. Transfer to a serving bowl or plate, top with peanuts and serve.
Feel free to use more or less red chili depending on your spice preference. You can also keep the seeds for more heat.