One of my favourite starters in Vietnam is the green papaya salad, which is fresh and flavourful. While I was in Vietnam, I learned a similar recipe for papaya salad from both Hanoi Cooking Centre and Koto cooking courses. However, I have added the shredded carrot and green beans. Those ingredients are more typical of the Thai recipe for papaya salad. I quite like the extra crunch. You can leave them out if you prefer. For vegetarians, fish sauce can be substituted with soy sauce, although the flavour will be different. Another tip is to mix the dressing only with the salad you will eat immediately. Later, for the leftovers, you can mix the dressing in just before serving. This is to prevent the salad from getting soggy.
Luckily, it is easy to find most ingredients in London Asian food stores. The most important ingredient is, of course, the green papaya. Since Thai recipes also use this, check your local Thai shop. Additionally, a julienne gadget like the one in the photo or a similar grater or food processor attachment will be needed to get thin strips.
1 green papaya, peeled and julienned
1-2 small carrots, peeled and julienned (optional)
100g bean sprouts
4 shallots, thinly sliced
1 long red chilli, seeds removed and finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
½ c. coriander sprigs, roughly chopped
handful of fresh green beans, sliced in half diagonally (optional)
3 Tbsp peanuts, roasted and chopped
2 Tbsp fried shallots
1-2 Tbsp dried small shrimp, optional
120 g (1/2 c) sugar
100 ml lime juice
3 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp fermented fish sauce (optional)
First, peel the green papaya and slice into julienne strips. Place in a mixing bowl with the bean sprouts, shallots, chilli, garlic, coriander, and green beans. If using the dried shrimp, crush them and then add to the bowl.
Next in a small bowl, prepare the dressing. Combine sugar, lime juice, fish sauce and fermented fish sauce. Then stir until sugar is dissolved. Then pour dressing over salad ingredients and gently toss. Finally, serve in a large bowl sprinkled with the fried shallots and peanuts.
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