Rainbow Papaya Salad
One of my favorite Thai dishes is papaya salad (without fish sauce)! It’s so tasty and refreshing! For those of you who have never had a papaya salad, it’s made with green papaya not the ripe orange papaya. So it’s more of a vegetable taste than a fruit taste. It’s also not soft and juicy like ripe papaya, but it has a thicker texture, kind of like a zucchini.
I actually made this papaya salad last summer for a Thai-themed dinner party with friends. My boyfriend and I totally made it up on the spot. It turned out to be so delicious! I haven’t made it since then, and I don’t know why! Perhaps because green papayas aren’t sold at my regular grocery stores (or at least I haven’t looked)? We recently went to an Asian market though — and when I saw the green papayas, I knew I needed to make this dish again! It’s been way too long since I’ve had a papaya salad, but now that I have nailed a simple recipe — I think I need to make this dish more often. It’s so delicious!
This papaya salad is a rainbow of fruits and vegetables. It’s packed full of delicious flavors and textures, from crunchy to soft and spicy to sweet. Pairing lime and cayenne with mango and cilantro (or parsley) makes this salad a perfect balance of a variety of flavors. It’s a super easy sauce too with just vinegar, lime, and a touch of cayenne.
A few notes about the preparation of the dish:
You can chop or shred the veggies in a variety of ways to make different textures in the dish. I personally like the papaya cut a bit thinner or shredded, though shredded too thin it may get a bit soggy the second day (at least that’s what happened the first time I made this). Carrots can be shredded or julienned. You can use Napa cabbage instead of purple cabbage for a lighter cabbage texture/ taste. Feel free to add tomatoes to this recipe. When we originally made it, we added tomatoes and that was a great addition. Add more veggies/fruits than what is called for, if desired. This dish is totally a freestyle dish and you can add more or less of anything based on your preferences. If you have a food processor or spiralizer that will make this dish so much faster to prepare. If you don’t, no worries! I have made this with a cheap handheld spiralizer for the carrots and some of the papaya (that got to be really difficult though, so I ended up chopping the papaya into small julienned pieces), and then ended up doing the rest of the chopping with a knife.
I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I do! Serve this salad as a light meal or pair it with a homemade curry or a tofu dish.
- 1 large green papaya
- ½ small purple cabbage
- 4 large carrots
- 2 ripe mangos
- 2 red bell peppers
- 2 medium avocados
- 1 cup fresh parsley or cilantro
- ¼ cup white vinegar
- 2 limes, juiced
- A few dashes of cayenne pepper, to taste
- ½ cup unsalted peanuts, chopped
- Wash all the produce. Cut the skin off the papaya and remove the seeds. Slice the papaya into large pieces. Using a food processor or spiralizer, shred the papaya (the papaya can also be chopped julienned-style). Either shred the cabbage in a food processor or thinly slice it. Shred, spiralize or julienne the carrots. Add all this to a large bowl.
- Slice the peeled mango and the pepper into thin pieces. Dice or slice the avocado. Mince the parsley or cilantro. Add all this to the bowl.
- Add the vinegar and lime juice to the bowl. Add a dash or two of cayenne pepper. Mix all the ingredients together and then taste it. Add more cayenne pepper or other ingredients as desired. Garnish with the chopped peanuts. Enjoy!
- This will make a very large batch, feel free to cut the recipe in half.
If you ever find yourself in Seattle Washington, I highly recommend the Som Tumm salad at Wedgewood II. It’s made with shredded green papaya, carrots, tomatoes, green beans, peanuts, garlic, cabbage, and a lime juice sauce. You’ll find plenty of other tasty plant-based dishes on the menu too!