May 20, 2021

A beloved Lao dish

A spicy bite, savory goodness, with notes of tangy lime and a bit of sweetness.

Unlike other countries, in Laos one of the most popular ways to consume papaya is in its unripened state.  More specifically, it's typically eaten as a spicy and savory salad.  

Lao papaya salad is a versatile dish where one can add any variety of ingredients to make it their own.  At its core, the main ingredients are shredded unripen papaya, tomatoes, chilis, padek sauce, sugar, and lime.  However, substitutions and additions abound.  Don't like padek?  Try adding fish sauce or shrimp paste.  Want more protein?  Add seafood.  Like rice noodles?  You can add those too.  Want more veg?  Add chopped string beans or shredded carrots.

Around the country, papaya salad is eaten as a main dish with sticky rice or even as a late night snack.  Its combination of flavors that bring together salty, sour, and sweet, as well as, its relatively easy ingredients keep people coming back to it.

In Laos at large parties, they'll even have a pestle and mortar setup with all the papaya salad ingredients prepared.  Because most people have a specific taste they like so party-goers are encouraged to make their own salad the way the like it.

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