Recently, I’ve been craving papaya salad with Romaine lettuce. The freshness and crunchiness from the lettuce combined with the sweet, sour, and spicy papaya is like heaven. The spicy peanuts on top makes it heaven x2. I only bought a small papaya salad so I finished it all in a day and a half. I still have some lettuce left and am thinking of dropping by the Asian market for another papaya.
I’ve been making papaya salad without the shrimp paste (a crucial part of the ingredients, if you are Hmong). A few months back, I had run out of shrimp paste and was worried my papaya wouldn’t taste right but for some reason, it was awesome! Strange as it may seem, I could somehow taste and smell a very subtle shrimp paste flavor when I eat it. I guess that’s why I don’t need it anymore.
There are so many spicy green papaya salad versions out there. I tried to find one that would be closest to how I make it and came upon this one at Hmongfood.info. I would say, one of the most important ingredient in papaya salad is tamarind, in liquid form. I’ve had papaya salad at restaurants without this and they aren’t as flavorful. Of course, just tamarind alone would not make the papaya salad. It is the combination of different ingredients measured correctly that create the perfect palate experience, and one I call, heaven. 🙂