Delicious and Healthy Lao Papaya Salad Recipe

Get ready to satisfy your cravings for a delicious and indulgent papaya salad with this spicy Lao papaya salad recipe. This salad is quite popular in the Lao community and has been a staple food item for most of their everyday meals. The salad is made with shredded green papaya, mixed with an incredible blend of flavors, including fish sauce, tamarind paste, palm sugar, lime juice, chili, and garlic. If you love som tam, then this recipe will definitely be up your ally.

This Lao version of spicy green papaya salad is packed with all the salty sour flavor profiles that you would expect from an authentic Lao dish. The dish is designed to keep your taste buds entertained with every bite! With a perfect balance of sweet and sour notes, you can indulge in the savory blend of fermented fish and shrimp paste. The salad works perfectly as a starter or as an accompanying dish to meat or fish.

With our easy-to-follow recipe guide, you don’t have to be a professional chef to make this mouth-watering dish. Simply grab some green papayas from your local farmer’s market and follow our step-by-step instructions for adding all the aromatic cooking ingredients – from the shrimp paste to the garlic – which ensure a flavorful meal experience like no other. Together we will unlock the secrets to creating this authentic laotian spicy green papaya salad recipe that will leave everyone wanting more!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Spicy Lao Papaya Salad
Spicy Lao Papaya Salad

Welcome to my Spicy Lao Papaya Salad recipe! If you’re looking for a dish that’s both healthy and flavorful, you’ve come to the right place. This salad is a staple in Laos and Thailand, and it’s easy to see why.

First of all, this recipe is all about balance. The combination of salty, sour, and sweet flavors will dance on your tongue with each bite. This is thanks to ingredients like fish sauce, tamarind paste, and palm sugar which work together to create an umami-packed seasoning.

But don’t worry about the dish overwhelming your taste buds with its strong flavors. With the inclusion of cherry tomatoes and green papayas, this salad delivers a crisp freshness in each bite that balances out its spicy notes.

And speaking of spice, for those who love heat on their tongue, I’ve included bird eye and Thai green chilies that offer just the right amount of kick.

But perhaps the best thing about this salad is that it’s so versatile. You can enjoy it as an appetizer or side dish for any meal- even for a barbeque party! Or if you want to make a statement at your next potluck dinner or gathering, consider this salad as your main course. Trust me; your guests will be talking about it long after the night has ended.

Overall, whether you’re looking for healthy nutrition or bursting flavors on your palette- this Spicy Lao Papaya Salad recipe offers exactly what you want.

Ingredient List

 Get ready to add some heat to your salad game with this Spicy Lao Papaya Salad!
Get ready to add some heat to your salad game with this Spicy Lao Papaya Salad!

Here are the ingredients you will need for this flavorful Spicy Lao Papaya Salad recipe:

  • 1 unripe green papaya (shredded)
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1-2 bird’s eye chili (depending on how spicy you like it)
  • 4 teaspoon palm sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoon tamarind paste
  • 4 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon shrimp paste
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • Lime wedges (for serving)

Make sure to have all of these cooking ingredients ready before starting!

The Recipe How-To

 Colorful, vibrant and oh-so-flavorful, this salad is the perfect way to brighten up any meal.
Colorful, vibrant and oh-so-flavorful, this salad is the perfect way to brighten up any meal.

Green Papaya Preparation

  1. First, peel the green papaya using a vegetable peeler.

  2. Then, cut the papaya in half and scoop out the seeds using a spoon.

  3. Use a mandolin slicer to shred the green papaya into thin strips or use a sharp knife to cut them into matchsticks.

  4. Place the shredded papaya in a large mixing bowl and add 1 tablespoon of salt.

  5. Mix and knead the papaya with your hands for about 5 minutes until it turns soft and pliable.

  6. Rinse off the salt from the papaya thoroughly using cool water and then squeeze out any excess water.

  7. Set aside the knelt, rinsed, and squeezed-out papaya shreds in a colander to drain them well for about an hour.

Making Tum Mark Hoong Sauce

  1. In a mortar, pound (tum) 1 clove of peeled garlic and 3-4 bird-eye chilies to make a paste.

  2. Add 1 teaspoon of shrimp paste, 1 tablespoon of tamarind paste, and 2 tablespoons of palm sugar to the chili-garlic paste and continue pounding until you get a smooth texture.

  3. Gradually adding fish sauce and lime juice while pounding until all are blended evenly.

  4. Finally, add fermented fish sauce (optional) according to your preference to balance the flavors of salty-sour-sweet-spicy.

Mixing Papaya Salad

  1. In a mixing bowl, add roughly 2 cups of shredded green papayas revealed from earlier steps.

  2. Add Tum Mark Hoong sauce we have created earlier into mixing bowl containing papayas making sure you are getting all its essence into salad without omitting any of it; mix these two ingredients together evenly.

  3. Add some fish sauce if you like it more salty or tangy taste , along with sliced cherry tomatoes such that they mix well with other contents in bowl.

  4. Lastly, give it a gentle toss along with crispy peanuts for that extra crunch and textured experience you would love while tasting dish for snacks or lunch munch anytime you might crave for one! Serve cold with lime wedges on top as garnish

Substitutions and Variations

 With just a few simple ingredients, you can create a salad that tastes like a party in your mouth.
With just a few simple ingredients, you can create a salad that tastes like a party in your mouth.

While the traditional Lao papaya salad recipe calls for specific ingredients, there are several substitutions and variations that you can make to cater to different dietary or taste preferences.

For example, if you don’t have shrimp paste on hand or want a vegetarian option, you can use soybean paste or miso paste instead. Similarly, if you’re looking for an alternative to fish sauce or fermented fish sauce (padaek), you can use soy sauce or liquid aminos.

If you find the salad too spicy, reduce the amount of bird’s eye chili or omit it entirely. To balance out the saltiness of the fish sauce and fermented fish, add more lime juice or tamarind paste for a tangy flavor. If the palm sugar is not readily available, brown sugar or honey can be used as a substitute.

In terms of variations, som tam is a Thai version of papaya salad that incorporates peanuts and dried shrimp as well as vermicelli noodles into the mix. Cucumber salad is also a refreshing option if you prefer a milder taste without the kick of spice. You could also try adding other fruits such as mango or pineapple instead of papaya for a sweet twist.

These substitution and variation options offer endless possibilities to experiment with this classic Lao dish and cater to different tastes and diets while maintaining its signature salty-sour-spicy flavors.

Serving and Pairing

 Looking for a salad that will make your taste buds dance? This Spicy Lao Papaya Salad has got you covered.
Looking for a salad that will make your taste buds dance? This Spicy Lao Papaya Salad has got you covered.

The spicy Lao papaya salad is a perfect dish for sharing, as it’s all about the communal experience of being around the table, enjoying a delicious meal with your friends and family. It’s a great addition to any summer gathering, picnic or barbecue. The salad pairs well with grilled meats such as chicken or beef, and is also a great accompaniment to seafood dishes like shrimp skewers or fish tacos. The fresh, vibrant flavors of the salad will complement and balance out the richness of the meat or seafood.

For those looking for a lighter meal, the salad can be served as a standalone lunch or dinner option. The salad is also vegan-friendly, making it an ideal choice for plant-based eaters.

When plating the salad, arrange it in a large bowl and sprinkle some chopped peanuts on top for an extra layer of crunchiness. A few lime wedges on the side will add a punch of acidity to balance out the heat.

The salad can be enjoyed on its own or served as part of a larger spread with other Thai or Lao dishes such as cucumber salad or sticky rice. And don’t forget to pour yourself a cold beer or a nice glass of white wine to cool down your taste buds after indulging in this fiery and flavorful dish.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 This salad is proof that sometimes the best things come in small, shreddy packages – in this case, papaya!
This salad is proof that sometimes the best things come in small, shreddy packages – in this case, papaya!

The Lao Papaya Salad is a perfect dish to make ahead of time, as it tastes even better when given enough time to marinate the flavors together. If you plan on having a party or a gathering, preparing this dish one day prior will be ideal.

When storing the salad, make sure you keep it in an airtight container in the fridge. Don’t worry if you have leftovers, as the salad can last for up to three days without losing its flavor and freshness. However, it is essential to keep in mind that the longer you keep it stored, the softer the vegetables will become.

If you want to reheat your papaya salad, try microwaving it for 30 seconds at 50% power for minimal changes in texture. However, because this dish is meant to be eaten cold, we recommend consuming it fresh from the fridge rather than reheated.

In summary, this salad can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to three days. It’s best consumed cold and doesn’t need any reheating. So make sure you prepare enough to feed your guests!

Tips for Perfect Results

 Love spicy food? Then this salad
Love spicy food? Then this salad

If you are making Spicy Lao Papaya Salad Recipe for the first time, it can be a bit tricky to get everything right. But worry not, here are some tips that will help you create a delicious salad every time.

1. Choose the Right Papaya

Green papayas are usually available in Asian grocery stores or specialty shops. Make sure to choose unripe green papayas with firm flesh and smooth skin. If the papaya is too ripe, it will be too sweet and mushy, which will affect the texture of the salad.

2. Proper Shredding

Shred the papaya into thin strips using a mandolin slicer or sharp knife. Be careful not to shred too much of the papaya’s outer layer, which can make it hard to chew. The thinner the slices, the better they will absorb the dressing.

3. Use Fresh Ingredients

To achieve a tasty salad, you should always use fresh ingredients like lime juice and garlic cloves. Also, make sure that your bird eye chilies are fresh and bright red in color.

4. Adjust Seasonings to Taste

Different brands of fish sauce, tamarind paste, and other seasonings have varying levels of saltiness and sourness. When making this recipe for the first time, start with smaller amounts of these ingredients and adjust them according to your taste preference.

5. Don’t Skip MSG

MSG is an ingredient known for its umami flavor and can help enhance the overall taste of your Lao Papaya Salad. If you are hesitant about using MSG, only use a small amount and make sure to dissolve it in warm water before putting it into the dressing.

6. Allow Dressing to Soak into Salads

After you toss all ingredients together in a bowl with your spicy dressing mixture, make sure to let everything sit for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator before serving. This allows all flavors to meld together improving texture, salt balance, acidity level for perfect results.

By following these simple Spicy Lao Papaya Salad Recipe tips we have shared here today, you’ll be able to create incredible dishes that taste fantastic every single time!


Now that you know all about this spicy Lao papaya salad recipe, it’s time to check out some frequently asked questions and tips for perfecting your dish. Take a moment to read these insights that will help you troubleshoot common issues, execute substitutions successfully, and impress your guests with your culinary prowess. With these tricks up your sleeve, you’ll be sure to create a memorable and delicious experience with this recipe.

What is the difference between Lao and Thai papaya salad?

When it comes to papaya salad, the Lao version is known for being more bold in taste, with a greater emphasis on pungency, spiciness, saltiness, and sourness, and less sweetness when compared to its Thai counterpart, Som Tum. One reason for this is that Lao papaya salad often incorporates more fermented ingredients, which gives the dish a richer and more complex range of flavors, colors, and aromas. In Laos, these salads are commonly referred to as Tum Mak Hoong, and they are a beloved part of the country’s food culture.

Is spicy papaya salad good for you?

Papaya is a fantastic ingredient for this dish as it is packed with essential vitamins and fiber that provide several health benefits. Additionally, its enzymes aid in improving digestive health, making it a nutritious choice for any meal.

What is papaya salad sauce made of?

This salad comprises of crispy pieces of unripe green papaya, zesty chiles, sharp garlic, umami-laden dried shrimp, toasted peanuts, long beans, and juicy tomatoes, all mixed with a delectable dressing that embodies saltiness, sourness, and sweetness, created from fish sauce, lime juice, and palm sugar.

Why is papaya salad so spicy?

If you want to add some fiery heat to your dish, then Bird’s Eye Chilies are the way to go. Be warned, these tiny red or green chilies can pack quite the spicy punch, so modify the amount according to your preference. Garlic is an essential addition for an authentic savory flavor. Meanwhile, cherry tomatoes serve as great companions, adding some moisture, flavor, and color to the dish.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, if you are looking for a vibrant, delicious, and easy-to-make salad recipe that is perfect for any day, look no further than this Spicy Lao Papaya Salad Recipe. This recipe is packed with tangy, salty, and spicy flavors that will satisfy your taste buds and impress your guests. With its fresh ingredients and minimal cooking time, you can make this salad in no time.

Whether you’re a fan of Thai food or Laotian cuisine, this recipe offers an excellent introduction to the world of papaya salad. With a few simple ingredients, including shredded green papaya, cherry tomatoes, and various cooking ingredients such as fish sauce and lime juice, you can make a tasty salad that’s perfect as a side dish or a whole meal.

So what are you waiting for? Give this Spicy Lao Papaya Salad Recipe a try today! You’ll love its unique blend of flavors and textures. And with various substitutions and variations at your disposal, you can tailor it to your preferences easily. This recipe is perfect for anyone looking to add some zest to their food repertoire without sacrificing flavor or nutrition.

In summary, this Spicy Lao Papaya Salad Recipe is an excellent addition to any meal plan or party spread. It is easy to make, packed with flavor and nutrients, versatile in terms of serving options and adaptations. Try it today and enjoy the Laotian spicy green goodness!

Spicy Lao Papaya Salad

Spicy Lao Papaya Salad Recipe

This is a Lao Papaya Salad Recipe. With this recipe, you can interchange the green papaya with cucumber, longbeans, mangos, etc. This dish goes great with grilled meat and sticky rice. Hope you enjoy.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 4 mins
Cook Time 3 mins
Course Appetizer/Salad
Cuisine Laotian
Calories 149.6 kcal


  • 2 cups papayas (shredded)
  • 5 -8 cherry tomatoes
  • 2 lime wedges
  • 5 -9 Thai chiles
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon shrimp paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon crab, paste
  • 1 -2 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind paste (optional)
  • 1/8 teaspoon msg (optional) or 1/8 teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons fermented fish sauce (pa-dak -optional)


  • Shred green papaya (it makes it really juicy!).
  • Using a large Mortar and Pestle, pound the garlic, peppers, shrimp paste, crab paste, and 1/2 tablespoon of sugar.
  • Half the tomatoes and add to the mortar and pestle along with the half of the cucumber.
  • Pound and mix the contents of the mortar and pestle.
  • Add the rest of the papaya, sugar, fish sauce, msg (optional), pa-dak (optional), and squeeze the lime juice in there.
  • Continue pounding and mixing the contents of the mortal and pestle.
  • Ready to serve.

Your Own Notes


Serving: 220gCalories: 149.6kcalCarbohydrates: 35.8gProtein: 3.9gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0.2gSodium: 730.5mgFiber: 5gSugar: 25.2g
Keyword < 15 Mins, Asian, Inexpensive, Vegetable, Weeknight
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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