Green papaya salad with crispy anchovies

Fresh herbs, crispy shreds of papaya, crunchy pickled vegetables, and spicy nuoc mam cham encompasses all the flavors of Vietnamese cuisine.

Ravenous Couple
A Vietnamese salad filled with a multitude of fresh herbs and pickled vegetables topped off by crushed peanuts, spicy sauce, and crispy anchovies.

Traditional Vietnamese goi du du is a simple combination of shredded green papaya, coarsely chopped basil, and strips of sweet and spicy kho bo (beef jerky) doused with a spicy soy based sauce. While this is enjoyable it doesn't have the complex flavors compared with other Vietnamese salads which are filled with a multitude of fresh herbs and pickled vegetables, a wonderful medley of textures and flavors topped off by crushed peanuts and a spicy nuoc mam cham sauce. In this version of papaya salad, we use similar ingredients as our previous salads goi hoa sen and goi tom with one special exception: crispy anchovies.

Like croutons, many Vietnamese goi have a crispy crunch to them, often from crushed peanuts or crispy fried shallots. Crispy anchovies however provide a totally new level of crunch and flavor. It's an umami packed punch. This idea came from watching Luke Nguyen's Vietnam on the Cooking Channel where he used crispy anchovies on a mango dish. If you like cooking shows, you must watch – it's one of the best cooking shows we've seen.

Goi Du Du Green Papaya Salad with Crispy Anchovies

1 green papaya roughly 1-1/2 lbs (or pre-shredded green papaya can be found in many Vietnamese/Thai markets)
1/2 cup pickled carrots and daikon, juices squeezed out and drained
1/2 bunch of coarsely chopped tia to (perilla/shiso)
1/2 bunch of coarsely chopped rau ram (Vietnamese coriander)
1/2 bunch of coarsely chopped mint
1/4 cup dried small to medium sized anchovies
3 tablespoons crushed roasted peanuts
cooking oil for frying
nuoc mam cham

In a medium sauce pan, fry the dried anchovies until just browned, remove and drain on paper towel and set aside. Be careful not to burn the anchovies since these anchovies are small, it's easy to overcook.

To shred a green papaya, peel the skin. You can use a special papaya peeler with serrated edges or if you don't have that, make numerous small chops to the papaya, then shave thin slices with the peeler.

Toss shredded papaya, pickled carrots and daikon, rau ram, tia to, and mint with about 3-4 tbs nuoc mam cham sauce in a big mixing bowl. Toss in additional nuoc mam cham to taste. For best results, allow flavors to mix for at least 15-20 minutes in in refrigerator prior to serving. Transfer to serving plate and top with crushed peanuts and crispy anchovies and enjoy.

Why settle for shredded papaya, basil, and beef jerky strips? Here we have bite sized bits of crunchy umami, fresh scents of Vietnamese herbs, cool and crispy shreds of papaya, crunchy pickled vegetables, and spicy nuoc mam cham-- now, that's what we're talking about! This encompasses all the flavors we love about Vietnamese cuisine.

Hong Pham and Kim Dao blog at Ravenous Couple.

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