• Nicole Short

Simple Papaya Salad

This delicious salad is from the beautiful country of Thailand. I have visiting Thailand 4 times and love it more every time I visit, The food is some of the best in the world. I will visit the flavours of Thailand quite often, so if you like Thai food, stay tuned. This dish originates in the northeastern part of Thailand, which is on the border of Laos, where the same dish is a staple as well. You will now find green papaya salad everywhere throughout Thailand and on just about every street corner in Bangkok.

I must confess that I am not generally the biggest fan of Papaya, but this Green Papaya Salad is full of the sweet, salty, sour and spicy flavours that I love. Impress your friends with this salad as a side at any braai this summer. Fresh and unique.

I went to a cooking class in Thailand to learn this recipe and I have made it for many guests over a number of years. They just love the fresh and vibrant flavours and it's a great accompaniment to any seafood dish!

This is just a 2 people serving recipe


3 cloves of garlic

5 Thai chillies (up to you how many depending on how spicy you want it)

3 tablespoons shelled roasted peanuts

1 tablespoon fish sauce

½ - 1 tablespoon palm sugar (can also substitute brown sugar)

1 - 2 limes (I used about 2, but I like things pretty sour)

1 large carrot, grated

1 - 2 small tomatoes (the som tam tomatoes in Thailand are different from regular tomatoes - they are known as sida tomatoes, but you could use just 1 roma tomato)

4 Green beans

Generous handful bean sprouts

2 cups of slivered green (unripe) papaya (depending on the size of your papaya, I used only about ⅓ of my papaya in this recipe, but papayas come in many different sizes and shapes)

To garnish

sweet basil and coriander

More roasted peanuts

Spring onion

Red chilli and lime wedges


After washing the green papaya, peel off the skin using a vegetable peeler (or a knife will do as well). You can then either use a cheese grater to shave the papaya, or you can do it the traditional way and hack at the papaya with your knife until there are numerous vertical cuts. Then shave off the top layer into thin slivers, and repeat. I like the traditional method as you get bigger, un-even, pieces of green papaya. Cut enough green papaya to have 3 big handful worth for this recipe.

Add 2 cloves of peeled garlic and 5 chillies (or however many you like) to the mortar.

Pound them for a few seconds until the garlic is crushed and chilies are reduced to small bits. Add ½ tablespoon of palm sugar, 1 tablespoon of fish sauce, and then squeeze the juice from 1 - 2 limes into the mortar. You can always start with less seasoning and add more to your liking. Mix and pound the dressing, making sure the palm sugar gets fully dissolved into the liquid (so no one bites into a chunk of pure palm sugar). Add about 1 tablespoon of roasted peanuts (no need to measure, just grab some with your hand), and then roughly slice in the tomatoes into the mortar.

Pound the mixture for about 30 seconds, lightly breaking up the tomatoes, shrimp, and peanuts. No need to pound too hard.Last step is to toss in a big handful of the green papaya shavings. Mix it all together, doing a combination of using just a spoon and pounding lightly, but no need to pound hard. Make sure the dressing is coating all the green papaya and that the salad is evenly mixed through and through.


If you don't have a mortar and pestle, just chop up the garlic and chilies, and prepare everything in a metal or glass mixing bowl.


Dish out the green papaya salad onto a plate, and I like to then sprinkle another small handful of roasted peanuts on top, some spring onion and chilli

Hope you enjoy this taste of Thailand

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