Spicy Thai Green Papaya Salad

Thailand is a country that is at the top of my “Places to Visit” list.  I’ve heard from so many people about the beauty, the beaches, the people, and (of course) the food.  Since I don’t have Thailand on the travel docket for this year, I had to settle for a “staycation” and indulge in authentic Thai food.

My friend, Mimi, who is from Thailand, but now lives in Lake Tahoe and owns Mimi’s Authentic Thai Massage, was gracious enough to share one of her true home cookin’ recipes with me.  I’ve eaten at plenty of Thai restaurants and I’ve never had a salad quite like this.  Don’t be fooled by the name.  Most American’s hear “papaya” and they think fruit, so they think sweet.  Like any fruit salad you’ve had before.  This salad isn’t sweet.  It’s spicy and savory (well… as savory as spicy can be).


This salad would be a great side dish to fish or chicken.  It can be prepared without the vermicelli noodles if you’re aiming for a “low carb” option.  I do not recommend omitting the sugar, but you can substitute it with a sweetener of your choice, but I can’t guaranty the flavor results with that.  I personally like how real sugar tastes in cooking.

There was MSG used in the batch I had, but it was so small, it didn’t bother me.  It was less than a pinch.  I listed it in the ingredients below because that is how this recipe was taught to me. Its purpose in this salad is to add salt.  So my recommendation to you is to substitute salt if MSG sends you running and screaming towards the hills.

Some of these ingredients may be hard to find at the regular grocery store.  So I recommend hitting up International Market in town.

Equipment Needed:

Mortar and Pestle

1 green papaya grated
6 red Thai chilies
3 garlic cloves
12-14 cherry or grape tomatoes halved
1 T lime juice
1 tsp fish sauce
A small pinch of MSG (substitute Salt if desired)
1 tsp white sugar

Directions:  Start by peeling, removing seeds then grating/shredding your green papaya, set aside. (You may want to YouTube how this is done, it’s easier than me describing it)  Next, remove the stems of the red Thai chilies and peel the garlic.  Throw them in your pestle and start smashing.  Next add the fish sauce, lime juice, MSG (or salt) and sugar.  Combine with using pestle.  Next throw in your halved cherry or grape tomatoes and also mix them in.  You should now have a fragrant dressing to add to the previously grated papaya.


If you don’t have a pestle large enough to hold all the papaya and sauce for combining, I suggest portioning out the sauce and doing it in batches.  Or you can transfer it all to a larger bowl and add the dressing on top.  You really want to work the dressing into the papaya.  It’s like you want to smash and rub the dressing in, don’t simply toss it.


As the salad rests, the flavors deepen and get all friendly with each other, prepare your vermicelli noodles.  The noodles are meant as an accent to the dish to help with the spiciness.  The noodles are not the main event.  Therefore, approximately a quarter size (yes, like $0.25 piece) diameter of dry noodles should be plenty to compliment the dish. That’s total. Not per person.  Boil water and cook noodles until soft.  Drain and cool.

Top vermicelli noodles with papaya salad and enjoy!


Tell me what you think of this post, have you had spicy Thai green papaya salad before?


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