There are many great recipes available on the internet and sometimes it is hard to choose one over the other until you try them yourself. My aunt shared a recipe she found on the internet that reminded her of my grandmother’s version of the Vietnamese Green Papaya Salad Recipe. I tried it and turned out pretty good so I thought I shared that recipe with a slight modification of my grandmother’s technique. The recipe came from Runawayrice.com.
The recipe has two ways of making the papaya salad. The second recipe with shrimp and pork is a similar recipe to my grandmother. The Vietnamese name for the papaya salad is Gỏi Ðu Ðủ.
Green Papaya vs Orange Papaya
First of all, you may wonder if the green papaya is a different variation of papaya versus the orange papaya. Well, I did. My guess was correct. The green papaya is the same fruit. The only difference is that it is picked at a different stage of the fruit.
The green papaya is picked at an immature stage where the flesh and the seeds are white. The skin is dark green. There is very little flavor and it is still hard. Whereas the ripened papaya is soft, sweet, and juicy. The seeds turn black and the skin turns yellow-orange.
The papaya offers rich sources of antioxidant nutrients such as carotene, vitamins C, and flavonoids. It contains an enzyme called papain that aids digestion. Along with high fiber and water content, papaya helps prevent constipation and maintain a healthy digestive tract.
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How to Prepare the Papaya for the Salad
- 1 lb green papaya
- 1 tsp salt
I found my green papaya at Fancy Fruit & Produce. You may also find green papayas at an Asian grocery store. Make sure the skin is dark green and the fruit is hard (not mushy to touch). You do not want a lot of yellow color on the skin because it may be too ripe. It is OK to use a slight ripen papaya as long as it is hard enough to shred without pulverizing it into pulp. When it is too ripe it will be sweet and too soft to shred into strands.
Peel the papaya using a vegetable peeler. Be sure to peel off the skin completely. Cut both ends of the papaya and then slice the papaya in half lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds using a spoon.
Shred the papaya into 2-3 inch strands using a shredding tool, mandoline, or food processor. Remove the core of the membrane in the center of the papaya. The membrane is bitter.
Immerse the papaya in a bowl of tap water and 1 tsp salt for 5 minutes. Adding salt is my grandmother’s technique. Adding salt removes the bitterness and enhance its own flavor. Then remove the papaya from the saltwater. Rinse 2 times in new water to remove the sticky residue which also causes the bitter taste. Drain and shake off the water.
Use a salad spinner to remove the remaining water. If you don’t have a salad spinner, place a small amount of the papaya in a clean kitchen towel. Roll up the towel and then twist the ends of the towel in opposite directions to wring the papaya dry.
Making the Sweet and Sour Fish Sauce
The sauce is the key to a delicious papaya salad. It is simple, light, and very easy to make.
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup lime juice
- 1/4 cup fish sauce (or soy sauce)
- 2 Tbsp minced garlic
- 3 finely chopped red chilies (optional)
Add all the ingredients together in a medium bowl. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. The sauce can keep for several weeks in the refrigerator.
From my grandmother’s experience if you would like to save it for a longer period, place all the ingredients except the garlic and the chopped chilies into a saucepan. Bring the sauce into the boiling point for several minutes. Turn off the heat and remove the pan. Add garlic and red chilies. Pour the sauce into a glass jar. This sauce can keep for months or even years.
Remember, you can substitute soy sauce for the fish sauce so vegetarians can also enjoy this flavorful salad.
Add Them All Together
- Shredded papaya
- 1 bunch Thai basil, washed, plucked, and coarsely chopped
- 1 lb pork shoulder or country-style ribs
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 lb shrimp size 31/40 peeled and deveined
- 1/2 cup crushed peanuts
Bring a medium pot to a rapid boil. Add salt. Put the pork into boiling water. Simmer on low with the lid slightly open for 15 minutes. Pork is cooked when the internal temperature reads 160 degrees on a meat thermometer or when pricked with a knife the juices run clear. Remove pork from pot and allow cooling.
Drop shrimp into the hot broth and cook for just 1 minute or until the shrimp turns pink. Remove shrimp and allow cooling. Cut pork into 1/4-inch thick slices. Then cut into thin strips.
To serve, place a generous amount of the shredded papaya on a salad plate. Add basil, pork, and shrimp. Top with the crushed peanuts and serve with sweet and sour fish sauce. This recipe yields 4-6 servings.
My Final Thoughts
The green papaya salad is possibly originated from Ethnic Lao people. It is very popular in Thai culture. It is originally served as spicy and savory. Many Asian countries adapted the papaya salad as their own and they modified it to their culture. The Vietnamese version is slightly sweet and sour with the optional of spicy peppers.
I am not a spicy eater so my version of the papaya salad has the chilies as optional. The salad is definitely light, fresh, and delicious with or without the chilies.
The most lengthy process of making the papaya salad is preparing the papaya and shredding it. Make sure to read through the whole process and check your ingredients. The recipe is pretty simple and straight forward.
Please leave me a note below if you have any questions or comments. Looking forward to hearing from you.