Spicy Thai green papaya salad

I usually get the green papaya salad any time that I go to a Thai restaurant. It’s light and fresh and I really like the flavoring. It’s slightly spicy, but not overwhelmingly so. I enjoy it with shrimp or simply vegetarian. The following recipe is vegetarian, but make sure to ask if you order this in a restaurant! It’s often made with fish sauce, so you have to ask specifically for the vegetarian version.

Spicy Thai Green Papaya Salad

1 green papaya*
6-7 small green chilis**
6-7 cloves of garlic
10-15 green beans, chopped in 1-inch pieces
2-3 tablespoons lemon or lime juice***
2-3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/3 cup tamarind juice
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1.5 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in halves
3 tablespoons peanuts

1. Peel and shred the papaya. A cheese grater works best.****
2. Slice the chilis into small round pieces. Crush the garlic with the side of a knife and then chop finely. Mix the two together and bruise with a mortar and pestle or the back of a spoon. Add the green beans and bruise a bit more. Add this to the shredded papaya and stir.
3. Mix together the lemon/lime juice, soy sauce, and tamarind juice. Stir in the sugar until it dissolves. Add the dressing and the tomatoes to the shredded mix and stir thoroughly.
4. Crush the peanuts with the side of a knife and add to the salad.


  • *I’ve heard that you can simply use unripe papaya in this recipe, but I don’t know how true that is. There is a specific variety of papaya called “green papaya” and that’s what this recipe calls for.
  • **Make sure you don’t add too many chili peppers. I added too many and my salad came out very spicy. I was sniffling for 30 minutes after I’d finished eating. If you do add too many, a bit of extra sugar may sort it out.
  • ***Lime juice is more traditionally Thai, but I used lemon juice because I have a lemon tree in my backyard.
  • ****I had to use a carrot peeler because I couldn’t find a shredder. My salad isn’t as pretty as I would have liked, and the texture is not as good as smaller shreds.
  • Other shredded veggies that you could add: carrots, cucumbers.
  • Other things you can add to the dressing (that aren’t vegetarian): fish sauce instead of tamarind juice (3 tablespoons), anchovy paste (1 tablespoon). (I got these two ideas from my “Complete Asian Cooking Companion”.)
  • This dish would be good served with sticky rice, the kind of rice you eat in Thailand!

6 Replies to “Spicy Thai green papaya salad”

  1. It sounds really delicious, and it remember me the beautiful year in Palo Alto where i explored lots of differnt style of cooking. I really want to try it, i will try to find a good papaya here in France where I live.

  2. I like papaya salad, too. Green papaya is actually the unripe papaya, and not a variety.

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