While some Lao households make their own padaek, if you want to buy it ready-made, try the Thai Budu or Filipino Monamon brands. In keeping with the Lao way, prepare this green papaya salad recipe just before serving, and not in advance.
- 1 green papaya, peeled
- 1 tsp salt
- 6 red bird's-eye chillies
- 2 tbsp white sugar, or to taste
- 1 garlic clove (optional)
- 1 tbsp Thai shrimp paste
- 2–3 snake beans cut into 2 cm pieces, or 3–4 small Asian eggplant, cut into thin wedges, or
- 2–3 chopped garlic leaves, to serve (optional)
- 125 g cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 large limes or 2 small lemons, juiced, or to taste
- 1–2 tbsp padaek (fermented fish sauce)
- 1 tsp Thai fish sauce
- white cabbage wedges or sprigs of young morning glory and pork crackers, to serve
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Using a large sharp knife, shred the papaya Lao-style by making long, thin shallow cuts into the flesh while turning the fruit. Use knife to shave the cuts into shards. Alternatively, use a mandolin fitted with a julienne blade.
Using a mortar and pestle, pound the salt, chillies, sugar and garlic, if using, until broken up and mixed well. Add the shrimp paste and combine well.
Add the shredded green papaya and snake beans, eggplant or garlic leaves, if using. Add the cherry tomato, lime juice, padaek and fish sauce. Pound ingredients with pestle, using a spoon in the other hand to mix ingredients well.
Once mixed, adjust flavours to taste for a balance of hot, sweet, sour and salty. Serve with cabbage wedges or young sprigs of morning glory on the side, and a separate plate of pork crackers.