Thai papaya salad is one of those foods which makes my eyes pop whenever I see it offered on a menu. Since visiting Thailand, it’s always been one of my favourite salads. Dressed with a tangy and mildly sweet dressing, it’s one of the most more-ish and flavoursome salads I’ve ever tried.
You can find green papaya in your nearest Asian supermarket. It’s the exact same fruit as orange papaya, but early harvesting of the fruit means it’s green. Green papaya tastes milder than the yellow version, and it’s far crisper. Hence why it’s excellent for this crunchy salad.
It also boasts tonnes of health benefits as a fruit. It’s well known for its high amount of vitamin C, which helps your body’s absorption of IRON – essential when you’re on a veggie and vegan diet. The fruit also has incredible amounts of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. I’ve even added fresh ginger in my dressing to encourage better digestive health.
It’s common to top papaya salad with crushed peanuts, but feel free to use a mix of seeds instead if you have a nut allergy.
What kitchen utensils do I need to make this papaya salad?
To replicate the authentic textures of Thai papaya salad, you need to use a Julienne peeler. Rather than peeling vegetables into ribbons, a Julienne peeler creates long thin strips, known as ‘Julienne strips’ – hence the name.
I personally love this form of peeling. It’s a great way to introduce different textures and prepare salads, garnishes and citrus zests. I highly recommend you buy this tool for the kitchen if you haven’t got one already. It’s bloody great!
Green papaya can be hard to peel, mainly because its bulky size makes it harder to handle – a bit like butternut squash. Therefore, my top tip would be to top and tail it first. Peel the skin as you usually would. Then halve it and de-seed the inside. That way, you’ll find it easier to work with and hold while you Julienne peel it.
Why isn’t traditional papaya salad vegan?
The answer to this lies within the dressing. This is traditionally made up of lime, chillies, garlic, fish sauce, dried seafood and sugar.
Fish and seafood are often used to season food products for saltiness. Loads of food products contain fish-derived ingredients, including Worcester sauce. Additionally, filtering processes for alcohol use Isinglass. This is a substance obtained from the dried swim bladders of fish, and it’s used for the clarification or fining of many beers and wines.
If someone is unaware of the production process behind some types of food and drink, fishy products can be easily considered fish-free by accident.
For this otherwise fishy recipe, I have vegan-ised it by subbing the fish sauce with soy sauce. I’ve also used organic coconut sugar for sweetening the dressing (as there are more nutrients to benefit from). However, you could use 3 tablespoons of agave nectar/maple syrup instead. Both substitutions don’t compromise on the overall flavour at all. Feel free to add more lime juice as well if you’re a fan of vibrant flavours.
I hope you enjoy this recipe. It would be lovely to hear your feedback, so tag me in your social stories and posts to let me know how you get on. Otherwise, you can also leave a review below!
Much Love, G x
For the dressing:
- 1 knob of ginger, peeled and grated
- 2 cloves of garlic, grated/crushed
- 70ml rice vinegar
- 3 tbsp organic coconut sugar
- 1 tbsp tamari sauce (gluten-free)
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 red birds eye chilli
- 1 lime, juiced
For the salad:
- 1 green papaya, peeled and julienne peeled (yields approx. 460g of peeled papaya)
- 1 whole cucumber, hulled and julienne peeled
- 1 1/2 carrot, julienne peeled
- Small handful of fresh coriander, finely chopped
- Small handful of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
- 5 cherry tomatoes, halved (optional)
- 50g blanched peanuts, crushed (optional)
- Add all the ingredients for the dressing to a bowl. Then mix well and leave to one side.
- Julienne peel your papaya, cucumber and carrot. After you julienne peel each one, add them to a large enough bowl, and use your hands to mix them up. When you prepare your cucumber, remember to remove the soft core to avoid a soggy salad. Simply half the cucumber, hull the soft core, then julienne peel it.
- Once they're combined, mix in your coriander, mint, and cherry tomatoes. Drizzle over your dressing and combine the salad well to ensure an even coating. You can drizzle over extra lime at this point too if you wanted.
- Serve with a sprinkling of additional mint, coriander and peanuts. Feel free to sub the peanuts for seeds if you have an allergy. Enjoy!
Allergens: Soy, Celery, and Nuts
To make this free of celery and nuts, leave out the coriander and swap the peanuts for seeds.