Green papaya salad is made with raw, unripe papaya. Unlike his mature brother, green papaya has a mild flavor and crunchy texture. Which makes it the perfect base for any salad. I fell in love with green papaya years ago while I was travelling through Asia. The salad has a spicy, savoury and sweet flavor and is famous in Thailand where it is known as som tam.
I remember the rambling street carts, where delicious green papaya salad was prepped on the spot with chillies, lime, herbs and peanuts. It was so fresh and full of flavor. Although we have plenty of papayas in the Caribbean, they’re not used for salads. So let’s change that once and for all.
Note: even if you’re not a big fan of papaya, you should still give this salad a go. The flavor of the green, unripe papaya is entirely different from that of ripe papaya.
Green Papaya Salad
1 lb (450g) green (unripe) papaya, peeled and deseeded
½ cup (35g) fresh coconut, shaved
4 tablespoons (40g) jalapeños, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons mint leaves, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons peanuts, roasted and roughly chopped
1 cup (175g) mango, pureed
4 tablespoons (60ml) lime juice
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon Scotch Bonnet chili (or more to taste), minced
Julienne the papaya into long, thin strips using a mandolin or grater. Combine all ingredients for the dressing in a blender and process.
Add a little coconut water to thin it out. Adjust the seasoning. The dressing should have a kick from the lime and chili. Mix the shredded papaya with the dressing.
Transfer the green papaya salad to a serving bowl and top with the coconut shavings, jalapeño, mint and peanuts.
Interested in trying out more Caribbean salads? Try my recipe for a Caribbean Niçoise salad.