A wannabe Vietnamese Papaya Salad with papaya, cucumber, carrots, scallions, peanuts and crunchy lettuce served with a Vietnamese dressing made of lime, fish sauce and maple syrup.
A famous salad in South-East Asia, all slightly different but made with the yummy green papaya! This version of Vietnamese Papaya Salad isn’t made with the green type of papaya, which is challenging to get your hands on in the Western world. So let’s call this salad a ‘Westernized papaya Salad’. I’ve used mature papaya; the inside was still orange even if its skin was half green. I’ve added a few crunchy lettuce pieces to bring the green papaya’s crunchiness to the salad!
Green vs. Orange Payaya
Is it the same fruit? Yes! It is picked up way ahead of its maturity; the flesh of the green papaya is light green, it tastes milder, and its texture is way firmer than mature papaya. If you are lucky enough to find the green type, the recipe stays the same, but you can discard the lettuce. I’ve used a small papaya slightly bigger than a mango, but if you have a typical papaya, it might be larger, use another cucumber to make the salad for the whole family!
Vietnamese Fish Sauce
There are all kinds of fish sauces; some don’t even contain fish, per see, but calamari. If you want the dressing of this salad to be spot on, I highly suggest the Vietnamese (NƯỚC CHẤM), which is more delicate than most fish sauces. Vietnamese use this sauce everywhere: dressing, dip, marinade, sauces, stir fry, etc. The Vietnamese version doesn’t contain extra MSG, although still full of umami taste due to the fermentation of the fish. To know more about this secret ingredient from South East Asia, check this link here!
Don’t we like a good crunch with our salads?? Floppy salads aren’t a thing… The more crunch you have, the better your salad is! So, salty peanuts over here are more than welcome! Some recipe fries the scallions, but I like them fresh better! Also, the hot pepper is optional, but in this case, I like to add it to the dressing; it feels calmer this way, spreads through the dressing, and brings in this soft touch of heat! It’s all about balancing all the flavours and textures!
It would be best if you didn’t wait too long before serving this salad to keep some crunch. Since the mature papaya is filled with juice compared with the green one, discard the extra liquid before serving.
Other Vietnamese Recipes
Vietnamese Papaya Salad
- 2 cups papaya (julienne (cut into small sticks))
- 2 cups cucumber (julienne (cut into small sticks))
- 1 cup carrot (shredded)
- 2 scallions (finely chopped)
- 2 cups lettuce (crunchy type like Romaine)
- 1 cup fresh cilantro
- 3 tbsp peanuts
- 2 limes
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 1/3 tsp sesame oil
- 1 thai pepper (finely chopped)
- Start by making the dressing by mixing all ingredients.
- Cut the papaya, cucumber and carrot into fine sticks with a mandoline or knife.
- Cut the lettuce, scallion and cilantro and mix it all in a big bowl with the dressing.
- Discard the bottom juice and serve with peanuts, extra scallion, cilantro and an extra lime wedge.