Papaya salad is a favorite shared asian dish of southeast asia. It has Lao and Thai roots but everyone makes it a bit different from one another. Hmong people make their papaya most similar to Lao and Thai people. You could even say Hmong papaya fuse a little of both Lao and Thai style together in Hmong papaya salad. This dish is stinky in a good way and quite addictive. Often times, people rush to the Hmong new year festivals just so they can buy some papaya salad. Make sure to choose a nice large (ripe) green papaya for this dish.
Ingredients for 4 servings
- 1 large garlic clove
- red pepper(s)
- 3 cups of fresh papaya shreds
- 1 TB fish sauce (nab pam)
- 1/2 TB shrimp paste
- 3/4 TB of frozen crab paste (found in a small clear container in the frozen aisle at the asian market)
- 1 generous TB of sugar
- a pinch of salt or more for taste
- 1/4 cup of peanuts, grounded
- 1.5 TB of fresh lime juice
- 1/2 large red tomato, diced. or a handful of cherry tomatoes
* Mortar and pestle
1. in the mortar first throw in the garlic, salt, sugar, red pepper(s), peanuts, crab paste. add the peanuts and ground them. add crab and shrimp paste. throw a few strands of papaya in first and pound until ingredients have mixed well.
2. Add 3 handfuls of papaya shreds, fish sauce and lime juice. With your fork in one hand and the pestle in the other hand, mix the papaya shreds as you are pounding several more times making sure the shreds are mixed in the juice. Add the diced tomatoes and mix a couple more times. Taste papaya, add more sugar and salt if desire.
(optional: You can toast raw peanuts as this will give the papaya salad a subtle extra flavor that enhances the dish
You can also add tamarind in water, mix it together thoroughly and gradually use as much as you like for this papaya salad. I have not measured tamarind sauce yet for this particular amount of serving but I will in the near future.)