Green Papaya Spring Rolls

Food Blog 022 The first time I tried green papaya was at a Thai restaurant, it was served with sticky rice and a marinated beef dish called "Tiger Cry".  The dish itself did not blow me away, but I loved the green papaya salad.  It had a tangy sweetness with a nice crunchy texture so when I spotted a green papaya at the asian market last week I was intrigued to reproduce the recipe at home.

I originally was going to make vegetable spring rolls and a papaya salad, but then my creative button went off in my head and decided to make "green papaya spring rolls" :).  Results? Pretty yummers if I do say so myself and did I mention these are very nutritious and low-fat?   I also made two dipping sauces to go along with it: a spicy peanut sauce and a traditional Vietnamese fish sauce.

When choosing your green papaya, make sure you pick one that is firm with no soft spots or bruises.  The flesh should be a white to light orange in color.  Also, to make shredding easier for the papaya as well as the carrots for the spring rolls, I would invest in either a mandolin slicer or a Titan peeler. Yes I am referring to the infomercial product you see at 3 in the morning.  My best friend gave me one for my birthday and I have to say, I use it every single day because it juliennes better than what I can do freehand.  

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Ingredients for Green Papaya Salad:

  • 1 small green papaya
  • 1/2 cup peanuts, roughly chopped (salted/unsalted)
  • 1-2 cups bean sprouts
  • 1 to 2 tomatoes, cut into long thin strips
  • 1 red chili, minced (add more if you prefer a spicier flavor)
  • 3 green onions cut into ribbons
  • 1/2 cup fresh Vietnamese basil, torn
  • 1/2 cup fresh coriander, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce (or soy sauce)
  • 2 tablespoon oil
  • 2 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/2 to 1 tablespoon honey or agave

For the papaya salad, mix all the liquid ingredients together in a bowl, make sure the honey/agave is fully dissolved.  Set aside.  Peel the outer skin of the papaya, halve it lengthwise and remove the seeds.  Julienne the papaya, if you do not own a mandolin or the famous titan, you can use a potato peeler to create thin ribbons which you can then cut into strips.  Place the papaya in a large bowl and add the sliced tomato, spring onion, chili peppers, and basil.  Toss with the dressing until thoroughly incorporated and then add the chopped peanuts.  Taste the salad and add any sweet,salt,or spice you think is missing.  Place in refrigerator and allow to marinade for at least 30 minutes.

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Ingredients for Spring Rolls:

  • 12 square rice paper sheets
  • 3 ounces of rice vermicelli
  • 1/2 head of green,red or romaine lettuce ( about 12 leaves)
  • 1 large carrot julienne or shredded
  • 1/4 cup of Vietnamese basil, mint or coriander ( I used all 3)
  • 2-3 cups of Green Papaya Salad

Soak the vermicelli in hot water for 10 minutes until softened.  Take a large pan big enough to fit the rice wrapper and fill with warm water.  You do not want your water to be extremely hot or the paper will become too soft and tear.  Soak the wrapper for about 30 seconds and lay out on a clean, flat surface.

Place your ingredients towards the bottom half of the wrapper -- do not add too much or the roll will be too big! Begin with a small handful of lettuce then add the same amount of vermicelli on top.  Place the carrots then the green papaya salad and top with herb mixture. Fold the bottom up, then the two side corners and continue rolling up, making sure the wrapper is kept firmly around the ingredients. With practice, you will be able to predict more precisely about how much ingredients you should put in each roll without making it too big or small.

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Ingredients for Spicy Peanut Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup of peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
  • 3/4 cup of water
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha
  • 1 tablespoon Hoisin Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chopped peanuts

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl until incorporated.  If the sauce is too thick, add more water, if it is too thin, add more peanut butter.  Garnish with chopped peanuts.

Ingredients for Vietnamese Fish Sauce:

  • 1/3 cup fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 6 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed, peeled, and minced
  • 1 medium shallot, crushed peeled, and minced
  • 1 Thai chili pepper, seeded, and minced

Whisk together the fish sauce, water, lime juice and sugar in a bowl until sugar is dissolved.  Add the remaining ingredients and allow to marinade for 30 minutes before serving.