This Vietnamese salad is our go-to summer salad as it’s fresh, crunchy and delicious. The herbs, nuts, crispy shallots and dressing make this salad so flavoursome. Add some shredded chicken to make it a meal, or serve it alongside barbequed meats for something different to your usual salad. You may find green papaya in the neighbours garden (so make friends with them), or in your local fruit shop or Asian grocer. Enjoy!
I use a Benriner mandolin to slice and shred the vegetables.
1 medium green papaya, peeled and finely shredded
1 apple, finely shredded
1/2 white cabbage, finely shredded
2 carrots, peeled and finely julienned
1/3 cup mint leaves, torn if large
1/3 cup coriander leaves
1/3 cup basil leaves, torn if large
1/4 cup roasted peanuts or cashews, roughly chopped
1/4 cup crispy shallots, either store-bought or home-made
1 red chilli, finely sliced
Dressing (Nuoc Cham)
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup boiling water (ie from the kettle)
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp crushed garlic
1 tsp chilli paste
1 tsp finely grated ginger
For the dressing: in a jug or bowl combine the sugar and boiling water, stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the fish sauce, vinegar and lime juice and stir well. Taste – it should be sour, salty and sweet – adjust if necessary. Add garlic, ginger, chilli paste and lime juice, stir to combine. Note: if you are not using all of the dressing ONLY add the garlic, ginger and chilli to the amount you will use. Put the rest in a bottle in the fridge to use another time.
For the salad: it’s all about preparation. I find a mandoline with a julienne blade to be a great tool to get the vegetable prep done. Otherwise, a small julienne peeler may be a good option for you, this will work well for the pawpaw, apple and carrots. Then use a sharp knife to finely shred the cabbage.
If you want to make your own crispy shallots: peel and finely slice about 10 red eschallots (these look like small red onions). Heat some neutral oil in a wide frying pan to 170C, you will need the oil to be about 3cm deep. When the oil is hot add the sliced shallots and cook until golden and crunchy. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. Store any leftover in a glass jar.