Vietnamese Green Papaya Salad with Beef Jerky

A northern Vietnamese favorite, this salad pairs crunchy strips of firm-fleshed unripe papaya with a sweet and spicy dressing. Look for green papayas at Asian markets or specialty produce markets. The flesh should be firm, not soft or mushy. This recipe comes courtesy of contributing editor Andrea Nguyen, author of Into the Vietnamese Kitchen (Ten Speed Press, 2006).

Vietnamese Green Papaya Salad with Beef Jerky
A northern Vietnamese favorite, this salad pairs crunchy strips of firm-fleshed unripe papaya with a sweet and spicy dressing.
Yield: serves 4

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp. fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 2 Thai chiles, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 green papaya
  • 1 12 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 12 cups loosely packed, roughly torn Thai basil
  • 4 oz. Asian-style hot fruit beef jerky (preferably Hsin Tung Yangbrand), shredded by hand

Instructions

  1. Whisk together fish sauce, sugar, lime juice, chiles, and garlic in a small bowl until sugar dissolves. Set dressing aside.
  2. Peel papaya and trim ends. Halve papaya lengthwise and, using a spoon, scoop out the seeds and the thin white layer lining the cavity. Using a Japanese mandoline fitted with the julienne blade, cut the papaya into 18" thick strips. Transfer papaya to a colander and sprinkle with the salt and sugar; toss to combine. Let sit until juicy and pliant, 30–45 minutes.
  3. Rinse papaya under cold water and drain. Working in batches, transfer papaya to a tea towel and wring out excess moisture. Place papaya in a large bowl and toss to separate the strips. Add reserved dressing along with the basil and toss to combine. Serve topped with the shredded beef jerky.