How to shred papaya – it’s way easier than you might think. In this simple guide, I’ll share all my secrets that’ll have you whipping up the most delicious, crunchy, and spicy papaya salads in no time.
After you’ve shredded your papaya, you’ll need a Thai mortar and pestle to whip up your first papaya salad!
How to select papaya
Selecting the right papaya for salad is crucial. Look for a firm, heavy green fruit with smooth skin and no soft spots or orange patches. To ensure freshness and quality, you can find them at Asian grocery stores.
How to shred papaya
In Thailand, we learn how to master the traditional Thai method from a young age.
If it’s your first time, try the easy vegetable peeler approach for safety.
To start, you’ll need a sharp knife. I highly recommend using a ‘kiwi knife’ which are the go-to knives in Thailand.
Traditional Thai knife-cut method
1. Peel the papaya: Begin by peeling half of the fruit with a vegetable peeler, holding the skin side with your non-dominant hand. Then, flip it over and repeat on the other half.
2. Make shallow chops: Firmly hold the bottom of your fruit and make shallow chops with your knife while slowly rotating the papaya.
3. Slice off the layers: Carefully slice off the layers to create perfect green papaya shreds.
Vegetable peeler method
1. Peel: Peel the skin with a vegetable peeler.
2. Shred: Switch to a julienne peeler like a Kiwi peeler to shred the papaya into even strips.
The vegetable peeler method is great for making papaya shreds in minutes. The traditional method offers a variety of textures, giving you shreds that range from thick and crunchy to soft and thin.
I’m team traditional!
Kitchen tools you need
- Vegetable peeler: A must-have for peeling the skin before shredding!
- Kiwi peeler: Perfect for beginners – create thin strips quickly and easily.
- Kiwi knife: Ideal for the traditional Thai knife-cut method and perfect for Thai cooking.
Tips and tricks
- Make in advance: Speed up your salad preparation by shredding in advance. Store the shreds in an airtight container in the fridge, they’ll last fresh and crunchy for up to several days.
- Use sharp tools: Use a sharp knife and a good-quality peeler for clean, even shreds.
- Store for later: Cut the fruit in half if you’re not using the entire thing. This way, the rest keeps fresher for longer.
- Ice-bath: After shredding, if you’re not tossing the salad immediately, store the shreds in ice-cold water to keep them crunchy.
How to store papaya
Store whole papaya in the refrigerator at 50-55°F (10-13°C), optionally wrapped in plastic to slow ripening. For cut fruit or shreds, use an airtight container to preserve texture.
Papaya recipes to try
Now that you know how to shred papaya, try creating some of my favorite Thai salads!
- Som tum Thai: This classic Thai salad is a hit with everyone. Roasted peanuts are tossed in a balanced dressing of sweet, spicy, and sour flavors. It’s perfect for those who are new to Thai cuisine.
- Som tam pla ra: Made with fermented fish sauce, this is a local favorite in Isan, the rural Northeast of Thailand.
- Tam sua: For a more filling option, this dish adds rice vermicelli, soaking up all the delicious dressing.
- Kaeng som: A Southern Thai sour curry with the green fruit, curry paste, and lots of chilies.
Frequently asked questions
What are the benefits of papaya?
This tropical fruit is incredibly healthy, it’s filled with antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin A, and lycopene. Papaya also contains an enzyme called papain, known for aiding digestion.
What does it taste like?
Ripe papaya has a distinct sweet taste that’s somewhere between a melon and a mango. An unripe papaya is usually bland and sometimes slightly bitter.
How can I tell if it’s ripe?
A papaya is ripe when it yields slightly to gentle pressure, the skin turns yellow or orange with sometimes minor spots, and it emits a sweet aroma at the base.
Read my article on essential Thai pantry staples for home cooks next!
Now you know how to shred papaya, you’re ready to whip up some delicious Thai salads right in your kitchen. Remember, the freshness of your papaya shreds plays a huge role in the salad’s taste. Let me know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!