Green Papaya Salad

Summer is definitely here this week – today is supposed to be the hottest day of the year, here in Virginia. It just so happens that today is also the day that the movers are delivering all 10k pounds of our household goods, so we’ve set aside pitchers of cold water, lemonade, and iced tea to help everyone get through the day.

Sometimes, a nice long sweaty workday on a hot day feels good – especially when paired with a dip in cold water afterwards. In the same sense, many people like spicy foods on a hot day, and in honor of that sentiment, I’m posting my Green Papaya Salad recipe from Paleo Takeout. From the book:

It’s not often that you would associate a salad with unripe fruit, dried shrimp, or spiciness, but that’s basically what you experience with Green Papaya Salad. The hardest ingredient to find for this dish is the green papaya itself, but if you have a local Asian market nearby, it will likely carry them.

There are a couple adjustments I made for this recipe, to accommodate a Western palate (crushed red peppers instead of scorching bird’s eye chiles), Western supermarkets (fresh green beans instead of yardlong beans), and Paleo-friendly nutrition (macadamia nuts instead of peanuts). If you have access to the original ingredients, and the desire to stay true to the original recipe, go for it!

Green Papaya Salad (Gluten-free, Perfect Health Diet, Paleo-friendly, Primal-friendly, Whole30-friendly)

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Easy

2 tbsp dried shrimp

2 cloves garlic
juice of 1 1/2 limes (3 tbsp)
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp coconut palm sugar or honey
1 tbsp chili oil (see note below)
1 tsp crushed red pepper, or more to taste
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 medium green papaya (about 2 lbs)
handful of green beans, trimmed and cut in half crosswise
20 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1/4 cup chopped roasted macadamia nuts, divided

1. Submerge the shrimp in hot water for 20 minutes, then drain and set aside.

2. While the shrimp soak, prepare the sauce and papaya. Combine the sauce ingredients in a blender; blend until smooth, then set aside. Cut the papaya in half crosswise, then peel off its skin. Using a julienne peeler or cheese grater, cut the papaya into 3-inch-long strips.

3. Place the green beans in a large mixing bowl, then bruise with a large spoon or ladle to release their juices. Add the papaya, cherry tomatoes, half of the macadamia nuts, soaked shrimp, and sauce and toss until well mixed.

4. Taste and add salt if needed. Serve topped with the remaining macadamia nuts.

** To make chili oil, add 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (or a couple whole dried bird’s eye chiles) to 2 tbsp avocado oil and heat over low heat until the oil turns read, about 3 minutes. Be careful not to brown the chiles, which will cause the oil to become bitter.

** Reserve the shrimp-flavored water for any seafood-based soup, like my Crawfish Bisque.

** Omit the sugar or honey to make this recipe Whole30 compliant.

17 thoughts on “Green Papaya Salad

  1. Love your work. I’m going to leave out the migraine triggering chili and chili oil plus ensure that the fish sauce is preservative free to make it “Migraine-friendly”. πŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œ

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve never used green papaya. Is it just regular papaya that hasn’t ripened to an orange color? And if so, how green and hard should it be?


    1. Susan, correct, it is an unripe papaya. Sometimes if the grocery store doesn’t have any in the produce section, you can ask for them to check in the back for any green ones. Also, most Asian grocers will carry them! It should be as green and hard as possible.


  3. Looks very good. I used to eat a lot of papaya salad, especially the original Laotian version that contains thick Laotian fish sauce (Plaraa) and crabs. It smells stronger than the Thai version, but it tastes so good.


  4. Is this based on a Filipino recipe? I remember one from cooking class in elementary school there which was so delicious, but I think it had a sort of sweet/sour dressing. Yours has some very strong flavors, but it could be a variation–or it could be from another cuisine.


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