green papaya salad

I’ve been dreaming of making a green papaya salad for awhile now… I just don’t see them (the unripe not-sweet green kind) around too often.

A few weekends ago Jack and I ventured out to the MT Supermarket, a ridiculously huge asian market that we’d somehow never been to. If you live here in Austin, have you been there? The only way I can describe it is that it’s maybe the asian grocery equivalent to IKEA. Super overwhelming… fun but probably only because it was our first time… and make sure you are highly caffeinated before you go.

Among other treasures, I came home with a green papaya.

Using a julienne peeler, (I know another gadget – sorry!), I sliced thin uniform strips of papaya… tossed them with some chopped veggies and a light dressing made up of scallions, herbs, lemongrass, a big splash of coconut milk and a few squeezes of lime.

If you’re serving this as a side dish, feel free to stop there. Since this was our dinner on this  particular night, I made it a more complete and filling meal by tossing some shrimp on top… some baked or grilled tofu would also be delicious.

 

serves 2 as a main course

note: this salad might work with cucumbers instead of green papaya. I haven’t tried it to say for sure, but it’s just an alternative idea that I had.

INGREDIENTS:

dressing:
1 scallion, green and white parts
a splash of sesame oil (1-2 teaspoons)
a few inches of lemongrass, coarsely chopped (the food processor will do the rest)
1/2 cup cilantro
1/4 cup basil
1 garlic clove, minced
splash of fish sauce (or soy sauce to make it vegetarian)
1/4 cup coconut milk (can be light or full fat)
splash of agave syrup (or a pinch of sugar)
sriracha, to taste
zest & juice of 1 lime (1-2 tablespoons of lime juice)

Pulse in a food processor until combined but not pureed. It’s nice to still see the course flecks of herbs versus liquifying it.

(note, if you don’t have lemongrass, just taste and add extra lime zest if you wish. If you don’t have basil you can skip it, or swapping it out for mint might be nice).

salad:
approx 3 cups julienned green papaya* (see notes)
roasted, chopped peanuts for garnish
1 chopped red bell pepper
1 scallion chopped
extra scattered herbs that you might have left over from the dressing
(optional) shrimp, tofu, or whatever protein you like
Toss the salad with the dressing, tasting as you go… addding as much or little as you like. Season accordingly. Serve with more sriracha and lime wedges.

*I used julienne peeler to make these nice even papaya strips. (I also tried using the zucchini noodle maker). The julienne peeler took me a few (like 5) frustrating minutes to get the hang of… after that it was pretty easy. It would have been more painstaking to slice them with a knife and they wouldn’t be as noodle-like. Having nice thin, even strips is kind of key here.

 

15 comments

  1. Looks fresh and lovely, and the dressing sounds so herbaceous and fragrant. I like the Asian-inspired touches.

  2. This has been my favorite dish this summer, but I never really knew how to make it. This was mostly because I had trouble finding green papayas, but not I at least have the recipe!

  3. I am a sucker for all things Thai, especially the green papaya salad. What a lovely thing.

    (& that grocery store! I’m making it one of my first stops when I move down to TX–do you know if there are any in San Antonio?)

  4. Alex from acouplecooks.com on said:

    Wow – this looks awesome. We’ll have to try. Also, am ordering a julienne peeler right now!

  5. Kathryn from londonbakes.com on said:

    What a lovely fresh sounding salad, I will be on the look out for green papayas!

  6. Milynn from love-and-whimsy.blogspot.com on said:

    Oh this looks so delicious! My parents grow a papaya tree in our backyard and we make this for dinner all the time! I’d love to try your recipe, the coconut milk and agave syrup sounds like a great twist to our normal Lao style papaya salad.

  7. This looks incredible!! I haven’t had green papaya before, I don’t think. I actually plan to go to the Asian market this weekend so I can make some Pad Thai soon, I’ll have to look for it. Sounds like you are on the same Asian-inspired food kick that I am on :)

  8. Roz from italianbellavita.com on said:

    I adore any Thai recipe that I can get my hands on and Thai salads are just the best! Thanks for sharing this recipe!

    Roz for ‘la bella vita’

  9. Heather from sundaymorningbananapancakes.blogspot.com on said:

    That dressing sounds to die for! Love how you used coconut as the base :)

  10. Jess from inquiringchef.com on said:

    Maybe it’s because I live in Thailand, but I consider a julienne peeler to be a kitchen neccesity. ;) Beautiful recipe, and I’m so glad to know it’s possible to get your hands on green papaya back in the US!

  11. I tried papaya salad for the first time in Thaïland and I was really delicious… and very spicy ! I had one recently in Switerland, completely different and not so good… I really like the idea of the shrimps in it, it’s very colourful and looks great ! Thanks for the recipe !

  12. Laura from thefirstmess.com on said:

    I love, LOVE green papaya salad. Your coconut milk dressing sounds perfect with al the lime and lemongrass. We have a totally overwhelmingly large and chaotic Asian supermarket in Toronto too. They have everything there, it’s such an adventure to go.

  13. Frederike from simpleseasonalcooking.blogspot.nl on said:

    Papayas remind me of a trip to Indonesia. I ate them all the time, just like pineapples. I’m not sure where I can find them in my town, but your recipes makes it worth the search. There’s an Asian food store so perhaps I will be lucky there!

  14. Gary Saeteun on said:

    Asian cuisine styles can be broken down into several tiny regional styles that have rooted the peoples and cultures of those regions. The major types can be roughly defined as East Asian with its origins in Imperial China and now encompassing modern Japan and the Korean peninsula; Southeast Asian which encompasses Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Viet Nam, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines; South Asian states that are made up of India, Burma, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan as well as several other countries in this region of the continent…

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    http://www.caramoan.ph/how-to-go-to-caramoan/

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