Recipe | Thai-Style Green Papaya Salad

Green Papaya SaladI was recently introduced to the wonderful Thai delicacy that is green papaya salad. My taste buds and stomach are in love! With just a handful of ingredients, the whole meal comes together in about 20 minutes. It's refreshing, simple, delicious, and super easy to make. This green papaya salad is so savory, tangy, sweet, appetizing and absolutely delectable. Get ready to be amazed!
Malawi (the beautiful country I grew up in), has an abundance of papayas. We had multiple papaya trees at my house - so many that we didn’t know what to do with all the papayas. Growing up, all I knew about papayas was that they were delicious when they were fully ripe and that they cured acne. It never occurred to me that green papaya is edible and or even palatable. Imagine all the missed opportunities! But thanks to globalization and some food adventures, I’ve discovered that green papaya makes for a great salad base. 

Story time: papaya does not cure acne!

I have a funny papaya story to share. When I was a teenager, my skin was plagued with severe acne. My mom, Amayi, being the genius that she is, decided to tell my siblings and I that papayas cured acne. Since we had a lot of papayas in the garden and Amayi doesn’t lie, we ate all the papayas. I can’t remember how long it was until I realized that my acne wasn’t disappearing. My guess is a year or two, and that’s probably modest. It turns out, papaya does not, in fact, cure acne. Amayi didn’t want the food to go to waste so she got creative.

Recipe Green Papaya Salad
I have a confession: it’s been two days since I’ve learned to make this recipe and I’ve made it thrice already. I’m making it for dinner tonight too. It’s that good! I rarely ever have a dish two times in a row, let alone three times so that’s saying something.

Green Papaya Salad (serves 2) 
½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved
½ -1 cup green beans, bruised
2 cups green papaya, shredded or julienned

1 red chili pepper, chopped finely (more if you love the burn!)
1 lime, juiced
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 ½ tablespoons palm sugar
1 tablespoon dried shrimp, chopped finely

2 Tablespoons roasted almonds, chopped
1 avocado, cubed

In a large bowl, mix all the salad ingredients together. In a smaller bowl or mortar and pestle, blend the dressing ingredients well. Pour the dressing into the large bowl and mix until the veggies and papaya are well coated. Cover and let sit in the fridge for 20-30 minutes (or eat immediately if you’re still working on acquiring patience). When you’re ready to eat, divide the salad into two bowls and top with your extras.

Your turn now
Play around with the ingredients and customize this recipe to suit your taste buds. This green papaya salad recipe is versatile. My twist to the original recipe was to use less fish sauce and chili peppers and add a touch of rice vinegar. If you don’t like something, take it out and replace it with something you love. You can also serve it with a hard boiled egg, fresh shrimp, salmon or chicken. If you’re vegetarian, use a tablespoon of soy sauce or coconut aminos instead of fish sauce and dried shrimp.

Have you ever been tricked you into eating something? What’s your take on green papaya? Share an anecdote, opinion, or comment below :)

Kalibu! (Bon Appetit!)