Green Papaya Salad

I love eating green papaya salad especially in the summer! It is light and refreshing.  It's a little sweet, sour, and spicy! You can make it with a few key ingredients!  This is a recipe that I created through experimentation and trial/error.  Hope you like it. This is a very popular salad that Hmong people love to eat especially at Hmong soccer tournaments and Hmong New Year celebrations.  Green papaya salad originated from Laos/Thailand. 

Green Papaya Salad Recipe Ingredients:

  • 2 cups shredded green papaya
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3 thai chili pepper (add more or less pepper to suit your taste)
  • 1 tsp shrimp paste
  • 1/4 tsp crab paste
  • 2 tbsp salted crab
  • 2 tbsp palm sugar crushed + 1 tbsp water (melt for 30 seconds in a microwave)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce (three crabs brand)
  • 1/4 cup tamarind paste water
  • 1/2 lime (this also equals about 1 tbsp, add more lime if you like it more sour)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp crushed peanuts
  • 5-7 cherry tomatoes sliced


  • Peel the green skin off the papaya with a peeler. Use the asian shredding peeler to get thin shreds. Or if you don't have one, chop the papaya all around and then use a knife to slice it into strips (doing it the old fashioned way makes the salad crisp).
  • Melt the crushed palm sugar with 1 tbsp water in a microwave for 30 seconds
  • To make the tamarind paste water, take a block of tamarind and add equal amount of hot water.  Let is soak for about 10-15 minutes and then squeeze out the juice.  You can use it just like this or put it through a sieve to remove the seeds.

Putting it all together

  1. In a mortar, smash/grind the thai chili pepper.
  2. Add the garlic clove and smash.
  3. Add the shrimp paste, crab paste. Mix.
  4. Add the salted crab and smash lightly to remove the juices from the crab.
  5. Add the fish sauce, sugar syrup, tamarind paste water. Mix.
  6. Add the tomatoes and smash lightly to bruise the tomatoes.
  7. Put the shredded green papaya in a large bowl.
  8. Add the sauce and crushed peanuts to the papaya and toss to coat the papaya.
  9. Serve

Adjust the ingredient measurements to suit your taste! 

Kicking it up a notch:

  • Add some long green beans
  • Add some shredded carrots
  • Add some dry small shrimp
  • Add some khaub poob noodles
  • Eat it with some pork rinds
  • Add padek (mud fish) to give it a pungent kick
  • Anything you like!!!!!

You can buy the ingredients at most asian grocery stores.  Just ask the clerk to help you find them.

Leave me a comment if you try this recipe!



Mmmmm I'm hungry! I've been waiting for this recipe. Asian stores are limited near me...because Chinese and Korean stores don't carry those ingredients. I'm the only one that eats papaya salad. My husband and baby don't like the taste or stink :) I've been substituting cucumber instead of papaya since I have been growing arm size cucumbers. I think I'm the only weird person that likes the papaya salad leftover juice because it's spicy. I would buy it in a jar or can in an instant!

The sauce can be refrigerated and it will last for weeks.  I've made it before where just before serving, I toss the sauce onto the shredded papaya.  I don't smash the papaya in the mortar because I don't like soggy papaya.  When I shred it the old fashioned way, then I bruise the papaya in the mortar. Yes, I love eating it with cucumber too! Back when we first came to the US we lived in a small town with limited asian goods.  My mom used to make it for us using cucumbers.  For a long time, we also ate it with just shredded carrots.  I don't add padek (mud fish) to my sauce but it is also good.

I can't believe you know "Ba Khia Crab(salted crab) " too. It brings up a new dimension in tastethat I never experience before. Wonderful and creative idea. The latest Ba Khia package is already filtered for you all the shells. You just pour out and use it. Viet people sometimes add shredded beef or pork jerky on top of the papaya.

Hi Thomas, thanks for your comment! I like mine with pork rinds. I've not tried it with pork jerky but that does sound really yummy!

This is great! I love it!!!. Your YouTube and blog helps me a lot, since I am a young teen wife and don't really know to cook much lol.

Hi Mai, I'm glad you found the videos helpful! I will try to post more recipes soon. :-)

Thank you so much for this recipe. I love LOVE love papaya salad but I'm a take out/dine out person so I've never learned how to make it. Recently, we moved to a town where Asian food is very limited and I can't find good papaya salad anywhere!!!! So I HAVE to learn it myself. I've been combing recipes everywhere but mine never comes out right because I'm never sure how much of what to put in or what makes it taste like this and what makes it taste like that... Until I happened onto yours!!! And god bless you, my papaya is finally edible!!!! So thank you so much!!!

Very cool! Glad you are able to make papaya salad now.  Like you, for many years my papaya salad wasn't very good.  I've probably spent so much time and money trying over and over again to make papaya salad edible.  I say, never give up and keep trying.  :-)

How do I make the tamarind paste water? Thanks so much. Love your easy recipes and great directions! Keep it up! 

You buy a block of tamarind at the asian store. Then you boil it in 3-5 cups of hot water. Let it sit for about 20-30 minutes. I usually mash it with my fingers to squeeze as much juice out and then press it through a sieve to catch the seeds.  Discard any seeds. Use only the water and the thickened sauce. You can store the tamarind in a freezer and use when you need it. It freezes well!

Hi.  I just wanted to let you know that your food tutorials are amazing!! I am hmong but married to a  white guy and because we are in the military, we are never in a town that has a huge hmong community so I always have to either wait until we visit family or learn to make it myself.  I recently used your recipe on papaya salad and it turned out great.   I am looking forward to more tutorials.

Hi Mao, thanks for leaving a comment! I appreciate your feedback and look forward to hearing from you again.

I wanted to make Papaya Salad using your recipe, plus the padek. I have padek but it's not the creamy version. It's the version with the whole fish, bones and all. Do I have to smash it, chop it, blend it to crush the bones? Or do I just throw it in and smash it in with the rest of the sauce? I dont want to bite into the bones!Also, I've never seen a recipe with the tamarind water. Would it be a big difference if I were to leave this out? What does the tamarind water add to the salad?Thanks so much! 

You may need to strain the liquid from the bones. Use a sieve or wire mesh. You can leave the tamarind out if you don't like it.

I never could make papaya salad so good This is such an amazing recipe. You should make a recipe book or an Hmong Food app for recipes of the day!! Seriously. I have philippino friends who love hmong food and love your homepage!!! We want to buy your cook book!! 

Thanks Sarah! Yes, I've been working on a cookbook for over a year now. It will be an iOS application. Sorry, I haven't coded it for Android yet. I am almost done with it. I'll post more updates soon!

My boyfriend told me when we first started dating that he was in love with this because his friend is Laos and gave him some, so I tried it out on him and he loved it! Thanks so much because we all know the way to a man's heart is through his stomach lol.

How many servings is this recipe? I have to cook for a college course and I have about 40 students in my class. Please let me know. Thank you.

This recipe feeds 1-4 people.

Where do you get the salted crab?

This is an excellent recipe and post, and I love your food photos. I love salted/preserved crabs in this salad, and I use garlic too. I'm fascinated that you've used tamarind paste water in the recipe and look forward to trying it also. Thanks and have a great day! :)

Hi Annie. I was just wondering if you knew how to make Padek from scratch?

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