thai green papaya salad

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Thai green papaya salad

This week I literally jumped up and down with joy when I spotted green papayas in my local Asian supermarket for the first time. I have been talking about, dreaming about and generally wishing that they would become available here for many years. After a trip to Bangkok and Vietnam last year, the desire for this lovely salad ingredient intensified when I tasted a few delicious versions. I bought the green papaya and went about making this Thai green papaya salad twice. The first time for supper and to test the recipe, and the second time to make it for Drizzle & Dip.

Thai green papaya salad

I’ve tweaked a few of the ingredients in this lovely recipe by Molly Wizenberg for Bon Appetit, but really it’s the kind of dressing you can adapt to your taste. Thai flavours are all about balancing the salty with the sweet and adding the amount of heat that you prefer. I’m a big fan of a good sugar hit in Thai food, so I actually added about 2 teaspoons of honey in addition to the recipe I’ve listed here, so you can decide if you think it needs it. I tend to like things mild on the chilli front, so just keep adding as much finely chopped chilli as you like.

I pounded the sugar, garlic and dried shrimp together to form a smooth paste in a pestle and mortar before adding the wet ingredients. I wanted all the flavours to be well incorporated into the mix.

While in Vietnam I bought a cheap plastic vegetable shredder/peeler for $1 and it shredded this green papaya into the most incredible julienne strands. Use a mandolin with a julienne cutter or a box grater if you don’t have this.

Thai green papaya salad

Thai green papaya salad

Thai green papaya salad

Thai green papaya salad

Dress the salad just before serving as it loses some of the crunch fairly quickly. I ate mine with slices of roast chicken which was the perfect pairing. 

Recipe – serves 2 – 3 – adapted from Bon Appetit

Thai green papaya salad recipe

A delicious and crunchy, flavour-packed Thai green papaya salad with vibrant dressing.
Print Recipe
Thai green papaya salad
Prep Time:20 minutes
Cook Time:3 minutes


  • 2 Tbs palm sugar or golden brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs dried shrimp
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 Tbs plus 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • +- 12 - 15 thin green beans
  • 1/2 a medium/large green papaya seeds removed, and shredded (about 3 heaped cups)
  • 10 - 15 small cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro coriander
  • 3 spring onions very thinly sliced
  • 1/2 fresh red Thai chile or another chilli finely sliced (leave seeds in if you like it extra spicy)
  • 2  Tbs coarsely chopped roasted and salted peanuts


  • Heat a small pan/pot of water to boiling and blanch the green beans for 3 minutes and then refresh them under cold water or drop them into an ice bath to suspend the cooking process. When Cool roughly chop into about 3cm pieces.
  • In a pestle and mortar, pound the sugar, garlic, and dried shrimp into a fine paste. Add the fish sauce and lime juice and mix until it's well combined. Keep aside.
  • Shred the de-seeded green papaya into julienne and add to a bowl (you want about 3 heaped cups to 3 1/2). Add the green beans, chopped spring onions, chopped cilantro/coriander, chipped chilli, and cherry tomatoes. Toss to combine. 
  • When you are ready to serve, pour over the dressing and toss to thoroughly coat. Sprinkle over the chopped peanuts.


Prep all the ingredients for this salad and assemble just before serving to retain as much of the crunch as possible.
Author: Sam Linsell


*If you live in Cape Town, The Asian Spice Supermarket on corner Main Rd and Arthur Rd in Sea Point stocks green papaya. Otherwise check with your own local supermarket. 

Thai green papaya salad 


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  1. Please tell me where your Asian supermarket is?! would love to find one that has fresh produce too!

  2. I have always wanted to try a Green Papaya Salad. Thanx for letting us know where to get them. I am definately going to try your recipe.

  3. Hi Sam
    We’ve just returned from a trip to Vietnam and the green papaya salad was the absolute best! I was convinced we’d never find the green papaya in SA, so I’m delighted to hear you found it…now to see if there’s somewhere in JHB that might have it.

    Ps: I love your blog and always look forward to it!

  4. Hi Althea, I’m sure you will get it in Cyrildene

  5. HI Leanne, if you read my post I give the address at the end 🙂

  6. Awesome Marizka, I hope you enjoy!

  7. Oops, thank you!

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