Yes, this is a vegan version of the regular Green papaya salad recipe. Green papaya salad is a delicious and southeast Asian salad made of shredded raw papaya as the key ingredient. It is spicy, garlicky, sweet, sour, and crunchy, all in a single bite!
Estimated reading time: 9 minutes
Authentic papaya salad is not vegetarian. It usually consists of brined crabs, dried shrimps, shrimp sauce, and fish sauce. I have tried to develop a vegetarian and vegan-friendly version of papaya salad. I don't promise that this is the most authentic green papaya salad, but I've tried to keep it as true to the taste of Thai papaya salad as possible.
Table of contents
- Green Papaya
- Ingredients for the green papaya salad recipe
- Procedure to make green papaya salad
- How to serve?
- Storage of green papaya shreds and salad
Green papaya is a highly nutritious fruits that provide numerous health benefits. From improving heart health to aiding in digestion, raw papaya has numerous established health benefits. There are numerous recipes that you can make with raw papaya, but green papaya salad recipe is one of my first choice.
What's the origin of green papaya salad?
Green papaya salad or the raw papaya salad is known to have originated from Laos. From Laos it spread all around Southeast Asia. Originally it was made with locally available fruits such as raw papaya or raw mango.
In Thailand, it is known by the name Som Tam or sometimes written as Som Tum. It's a very regular salad in a Thai restaurant. Som means sour and Tom Or Tum refers to pounding. So, it som tam salad is one that has a prominent sour taste and is made by pounding all the ingredients together in a pestle and mortar.
Som tam salad has numerous variations around southeast Asia. For example, tam som in Laos, bok l’hong in Cambodia, and goi do do In Vietnam. But the Thai papaya salad is the most famous of them all internationally. It's one of the very delicious salads. It was even listed in the world's 50 most delicious foods compiled by CNN in 2018.
How does this vegan Green Papaya salad recipe taste?
- Fresh: Fresh vegetables like Papaya, beans, tomatoes, and fresh herbs gives this salad freshness.
- Spicy: Yes, it is spicy! The heat from the Thai Chili gives it a fresh feeling of spiciness.
- Sour: lime juice is the main source of sourness in Thai papaya salad. Sometimes tamarind paste is also added to give a sweet-sour flavor to the salad.
- Salty and savory: In raw papaya salad, the main saltiness and savories come from the fish sauce, shrimp paste, or brined Crab. But in this vegetarian version, we will not be using any of these. Instead, I will stick with soy sauce. It gives a salty and savory flavor to our som tam salad.
- Sweet: sweetness comes from palm sugar but palm sugar is not a very easily available sweetener so I recommend you choose whatever is available for you. the closest substitute to palm sugar is light Brown sugar. Also, jaggery has a flavor very close to that of palm sugar.
- Crunchy and nutty: the crunch comes from papaya and peanuts.
Ingredients for the green papaya salad recipe
Let us talk a little about the various ingredients we are going to need for making this vegan version of the Green papaya salad.
1. Green papaya or Raw papaya:
Choose clean green papaya. As Popeye is the key ingredient of the salad let's try to understand how we can choose the best papaya for this spicy Thai salad.
Understanding raw Papaya and choosing the best one for our Som tam inspired vegan papaya salad recipe
Some people assume that green papaya is some specific variety of papaya. But it is just the unripe or raw stage of the normal orange papaya that we get in our supermarkets.
Raw papayas are very easily available in Asian supermarkets or sometimes even in your regular grocery stores. Always choose the totally green ones. Even the mildest yellow pigmentation on the skin of the papaya is an indication that it's ripening. Such papaya is not suitable to make the salad.
So, look for the papaya that is dark green throughout. Also, take care to pick one that is clean, and not blotched or bruised.
2. Green beans:
Ideally yardlong beans are used in som tam papaya salads. But since these are not available everywhere, I am going to use simple green beans. Choose the thin and fresh green beans. If you can get your hands on the yardlong beans do use them. The yard-long beans can be eaten raw, but the regular green beans need to be blanched before adding to the salad.
3. Soy Sauce
Soy sauce makes up for the fish sauce and shrimp paste in this vegan green papaya salad recipe. I like to use light soy sauce.
Choose whatever tomato you have on hand. Cherry tomato or regular tomato, just dice them and use them.
5. Thai chili:
All the heat will come from Thai chilis. You can substitute Thai chili with any regular green chili.
6. Lime juice and tamarind paste
I like to use key limes for the strong sour taste and a little mix of the sweet-sour taste of tamarind. Using tamarind is totally optional, but it does give depth to the sourness quotient of the Thai papaya salad.
7. Light brown sugar:
I have tried to make this recipe as approachable as possible. Palm sugar is the conventional sweetener used in Green papaya salads across various Southeast Asian countries. But here in the North American continent, it not that easily available. So, you can use light brown sugar. Indian Jaggery also works great.
I love the flavor of raw garlic with lime in this raw papaya salad recipe. If you are not a fan of garlic, reduce or omit the garlic from the salad.
Roasted peanuts not only give a crunch and nuttiness to the salad but, it also, helps to combat the kick of spiciness from the Thai Chilis. I like to roast my raw peanuts at 350 0 F for 15 minutes. You can also roast them in a pan, at medium-low heat, while regularly stirring.
You can very much use pre-roasted peanuts. Choose whatever you have on hand.
Other optional ingredients that you can add to this vegetarian som tam salad are:
1.Fresh herbs: Thai basil, cilantro, and mint
2. Canned hearts of palm
3. Raw Thai eggplant
Procedure to make green papaya salad
1. Shredding or preparing the green papaya for the salad
Shredding the green papaya can be tricky. A Julienne peeler or Japanese mandoline comes in handy. But just like me if you don't own one, stick to your box shredder. Also, you can use your food processor with the shredder attachment.
The conventional way to shred papaya as you can see the streetside salad sellers in Thailand do it.
They make very regular and vertical knife marks on the surface of the papaya and then, carefully peel a thin slice, to obtain thin, matchstick-like shreds. But it can take some practice.
A quick tip if you are going to shred the papaya with your hands. Take out the papaya from the refrigerator about an hour before you start making the green papaya salad. Refrigerated papaya is more firm and difficult to shred.
Then, when you have obtained the shreds it is advised to put them in ice-cold water for at least half an hour. Alternately you can put the shredded papaya in a bowl of cold water and put it in the fridge. It makes the papaya super crunchy.
2. Making the Green papaya salad dressing and bringing everything together
Conventionally papaya salad is made in large pestle and mortars. First, all the dressing ingredients are crushed. Then, shredded papaya and other vegetables are added to the papaya salad dressing, and gently pounded for a minute or two to combine and incorporate all the flavors.
Well, not all of us have those big pestle and mortars at our homes. Pestle and mortar is the Some have a small pestle and mortars like me. So, let us try to make it simple for all of us.
Case 1: If you have a small pestle and mortar, prepare the dressing in it. Hand crushed chili and garlic are the essence of this salad. Add a handful of papaya shreds, so that the dressing does not splash out pounding. Then, in a big metal bowl, add all the ingredients and dressing and mound and mix using the small pestle.
Case2: If you do not have any pestle or mortar and you are determined to make this vegetarian version of green papaya salad, prepare the dressing in a small blender jar. And then, mix with the salad in a big metal bowl. Use a rolling pin or something similar to pound the papaya salad.
How to serve?
Now, that you have successfully made this green papaya salad recipe, let's talk a little about how you can serve it. It is great on its own, but since it is a spicy salad, conventionally it is served alongside some raw vegetable, like a cabbage wedge. Also, it is traditionally served alongside glutenous rice, rice noodles, or Thai curry.
Storage of green papaya shreds and salad
This vegan green papaya salad recipe stores well for about 2 days in the refrigerator. Pack it in a glass freezer safe, air-tight container and refrigerate for 2 days.
The Raw papaya shreds can be refrigerated for 3-4 days without any quality deterioration.
Can you freeze shredded green papayas
The best way to store the shredded papaya for longer periods is to freeze them in a freezer safe bag. They freeze well for months.
To use, just let them thaw at room temperature for half an hour and use in your favorite papaya recipe.
Do check our favorite vegan recipes:
I have tried to make this salad recipe simple, and approachable. I hope you try this recipe for green papaya salad. Do let me know your thought in the comment section below.
Green Papaya Salad Recipe: Quick Vegan Version
Ingredients for making green papaya salad Dressing.
- 5 tablespoon of lime juice or juice of 5 Key Lime
- 2 Thai chili
- 3 ½ tablespoon of light Brown sugar
- 2 ½ tablespoon of light soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon of Tamarind paste
- 3 cloves of garlic
Other Ingredients of the salad
- 2 ½ cups shredded raw papaya
- 10 green beans blanched
- 1 Cup of diced tomatoes
- 3 tablespoon roasted peanuts
- Using a peeler peel off the green skin of the raw papaya. Now use a Julienne peeler, a box shredder, or a food processor with a shredder to shred the raw papaya into thin Matchstick like shreds.
- Now transfer all the papaya shreds into ice-cold water and let it rest for about half an hour.
- In the meantime, blanch the green beans.
- Add garlic, Thai chili, Brown sugar, soy sauce, lime juice, and tamarind paste into a pestle and mortar. Crush and mix everything to make papaya salad dressing.
- Now add the shredded papaya, tomatoes, beans, and dressing in a big metal bowl. Using the pestle pound everything and keep mixing. Also, add half the peanuts and keep mixing and pounding for a minute.
- Cover and let the salad rest for 15 minutes in a refrigerator.
- Garnish with the reserved peanuts and more Thai chilis (if you want) and serve!
Storage notes for Papaya salad
- This vegan green papaya salad recipe stores well for about 2 days in the refrigerator. Pack it in a glass freezer-safe, air-tight container, and refrigerate for 2 days.
- The Raw papaya shreds can be refrigerated for 3-4 days without any quality deterioration.
- The best way to store the shredded papaya for longer periods is to freeze them in a freezer-safe bag. They freeze well for months.
- To use, just let them thaw at room temperature for half an hour and use in your favorite papaya recipe.