I love to eat Lao Green Papaya Salad, pretty much all year round. There is just something about the taste of the spicy, sweet, and sour combination of the dish to make your taste buds dance. Here is my family recipe for Lao Green Papaya salad aka Tum maak Houng) with Nam Pa (fish sauce). You may substitute Pa Dek (fermented fish sauce) for Nam Pa.
Lao Green Papaya Salad
* 2-3 cups shredded young, green papaya (wash and rinse the papaya, peel off the outer skin, then shred it into 3-4 inch strands)
* 3-5 red chili peppers (you can subsitute the green ones or mix them together, depending on your taste)
* 1 clove garlic, a must for some people, I don’t use it.
* 2 tablespoons chopped peanuts (optional)
* 1/4 to 1/2 tablesppon shrimp paste (use small amount first, you can always add more later)
* 2-3 tablespoon nam pa (fish sauce-good brand to use is the 3 crabs brand or squid brand)
* 1 to 2 teaspoon sugar (add more if you like it sweeter)
* 1 lime (slice into four quarters)
* 8 to 12 cherry tomatoes (slice in half or smaller)
* 1/2 head lettuce and or 1/2 cabbage (slice), leafy lettuce, water spinach to go with the salad. It’s your choice.
Crush chilli peppers and garlic in the mortar with the pestle. Add the shrimp paste to make a thick pasty mix. Then add the chopped peanuts, shredded papaya, tomatoes, two quaters of lime (squeez the juice on to the mix, add the rinds or leave it out), nam bpa, and sugar. Mix the ingredients thoroughly by smashing gently on the salad mix with the pestle on one hand and using a big long spoon to toss the salad mix.
Sample your salad and add ingredients accordingly. Spoon the salad on a platter and serve with lettuce and/or cabbage.
*Sometimes I don’t add the chopped peanuts*
Note: you can also add pork rinds with the chopped peanuts, just crush it in chew-able pieces before adding the peanuts and the rest of the ingredients. Alternatively you can serve pork rinds on the side of papaya salad.