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How to Make Thai Green Papaya Salad Recipe

Jacob and I have been talking about doing a South East Asian food tour. We have so many places on our bucket list that we don’t know exactly when we’ll make it out there, but the next best thing is to cook up our favorites at home. I especially love Thai food because it’s spicy. Green papaya salad is one of my favorite dishes and it’s so much cheaper to make at home.

A girlfriend of mine introduced me to her recipe a couple years ago, and in my opinion it’s better than all the ones I’ve had. Because she knew I loved it so much, she sent me a traditional clay mortar and pestle and her recipe for my birthday last year. She was also kind enough to let me share it with you guys!

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  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 unripe papaya, peeled and shredded
  • 1-5 Thai peppers
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 Tablespoon fish sauce (my mom loves this one best)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon MSG (optional)
  • 10 peanuts, crushed (optional)
  • 1 unripe mango, peeled and shredded (optional)
  • 1 carrot, peeled and shredded (optional)


  1. In the clay mortar and pestle, mash the Thai peppers and 1 clove of garlic.
  2. Shred the papaya. Use this method or I use a mandoline because it makes it so much easier.
  3. Put a handful of shredded papaya into the mortar and pestle and mix.
  4. Put the remainder papaya and the cherry tomatoes and mash together.
  5. Add the fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, and optional msg and mash together.
  6. Add crushed peanuts on top for extra texture.

Chef’s notes

  • Don’t have clay mortar and pestle? Use a large bowl and mash everything together as best you can.
  • Start at 1-2 Thai peppers. Thai spicy is definitely a different level of spicy. I did four and sometimes I go back down to two depending on my mood, but I usually order at a spicy 10 level.
  • I pretty much left out all the optional ingredients, because I like to keep it simple and it tastes great without it, but you can add them in as you see fit.
  • Add additional fish sauce for saltier, sugar for sweet, or lime for sour to match your tastes.
  • Also, found this post on 5 tips on squeezing the most juice out of your limes or lemons helpful.
The Floating Market Indonesia (South Borneo).Pin
Photo by M Reza Faisal (go see his other photography!)


Doesn’t this floating market look beautiful? The most popular one is the Bangkok floating market, but there are many others that are just as beautiful and way less touristy. This one is in South Borneo in Indonesia. The airfare might be expensive, but once you get there, the good thing is that the food isn’t! If you’ve already been to any of the southeast Asian countries, we’d love for you to leave us some recommendations in the comments below.

What did you think about this Thai green papaya salad recipe? How spicy do you eat your food?
Do you generally like sweet? salty? sour? All the above?
What’s your favorite type of cuisine?

xoxo estherJacob

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