Green Papaya and Prawn Salad (Goi Du Du) 

I enjoyed so many great salads in Vietnam including a version of this Green Papaya and Prawn Salad (Goi Du Du).This salad is popularly served with slices of barbequed or steamed pork or beef. I like the combination of plump fresh prawn and salty dried shrimp. The secret is in the fresh ingredients and the combination that provides interest: heat, salt, crunch, bursts of minty and herby zing. And in the dressing. At a cooking class in Hue, we spent a bit of time learning how to use the sweet, sour, salt and heat element and to blend until our palates were very pleased.

fresh Vietnamese salad

cooking class in Hue

cooking class in Hue

With our wonderful teacher at her mother in law's restaurant

Note, I’m using Vietnamese fish sauce in this recipe which is far less pungent and salty than Thai fish sauce and has a more pleasant smell too.

It’s worth visiting your Asian supermarket or grocer for the herbs and green papaya which aren’t very easy to find in our stores and markets in South Africa. I try to call in advance.

green papaya salad


Serves 4 as a starter

fresh summer salad

1 small green papaya (500g)

16 mint leaves

20 coriander leaves

12 small prawns, cleaned, shell on tail

1 shallot, thinly sliced

20g dried shrimp, hydrated in hot water

2 tbsp lemongrass, pounded finely in pestle and mortar

60 ml canola oil

2 tbsp peanuts, roasted or griddled on a hot pan

For the dressing

1 small lime, squeezed

1 ½ tbsp white or brown sugar

1 1/2 tbsp fish sauce (Vietnamese)

½ tsp garlic, finely chopped

½ tsp red chilli, chopped (adjust to taste)

Vietnamese prawn salad

  1. Peel green papaya, cut in half and discard seeds. Shred finely. Place in a bowl of ice water.
  2. Rinse dried shrimp, drain off excess water and pat down with paper towels. Mix lemongrass into shrimp and leave aside.
  3. Steam prawns for 40 seconds or until done. Do not over cook. Leave aside to cool.
  4. Prepare the dressing by mixing the sugar in lime juice until dissolved. Add the fish sauce, garlic and chili, taste and adjust to your liking.
  5. In a small, deep frying or saucepan on high heat, add oil and fry shallots for 15 seconds or until brown and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon. In the same pan, fry the lemongrass coated dried shrimp for up to 10 seconds or until the shrimp has crisped. Do be careful as it will splutter.
  6. Assemble salad by draining the papaya well, and adding to a serving bowl. Toss the mint and coriander into the papaya and top with the steamed prawns. Sprinkle over the shallots, dried shrimp and peanuts. Dress just before serving.

green papaya Vietnamese salad

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