Foodie Facts

  • You can substitute green papaya with cucumbers. Shredded cucumbers will be less crunchy, but the juiciness is very cooling and refreshing. Shredded carrots are also a great substitute for the crunch and texture.

  • Tum Mak Hoong uses a Kok and Sak (a mortar and pestle) to mash the flavors together. If you don’t have a mortar & pestle, just make the dressing and toss as you would a normal salad.


Serving Size: 2 - 3 people

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Prep Time: 10 - 15 minutes

Tum Mak Hoong

Papaya Salad | ຕຳຫມາກຮຸ່ງ



  • 3-4 cups Green Papaya, shredded

  • 3-4 cherry tomatoes, sliced

Papaya Salad Sauce:

  • 2 cloves garlic

  • 1-5 Thai chili peppers*

  • 1 teaspoon crab paste**

  • 1 teaspoon shrimp paste**

  • 1/2 tablespoon tamarind paste**

  • 1 tablespoon Padaek**

  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar

  • 1/2 tablespoon Chicken bouillon

  • 1 Lime

dietary symbols.png

*Customize to your preferred spice level. If you don't want a spicy salad, add just one chili pepper. 

**There are pre-made Fermented Papaya Salad dressing bottles you can purchase if you don’t have the pastes and the padaek on hand. This is the brand I use.

Wooden Surface



Papaya Salad is one of many signature spicy Lao dishes, and probably the most well-known. Papaya Salad can be eaten as a side with sticky rice and another dish, but you can also substitute papaya with rice vermicelli noodles for a main course meal!

My mom has an incredibly high spice tolerance, so I always have to tone down the peppers for my taste buds.

Here's a rule of thumb for chili peppers: better one than none! It just doesn't taste right without it.


Like most staple recipes, each family adds in their own ingredients. My mom uses crab paste and cherry tomatoes in her Tum Mak Hoong, but feel free to leave them out if you don’t have the ingredients on hand. At its core, it is sliced papaya seasoned with savory sauces, lime juice, and chili peppers.




butcher knife or stripe peeler

Tools_Big Bowl.png

large bowl to hold ingredients


mortar & pestle

plate & fork.png

plate & fork to serve



Let's make papaya salad!

tum first step.png

making papaya salad dressing:

  1. With the mortar & pestle, start by pounding the chili peppers, garlic, sugar, chicken seasoning, and salt into a paste.

  2. Add the padaek, crab paste, shrimp paste, and tamarind paste (If you bought the pre-made dressing, use that instead). Pound it again to incorporate all ingredients together.

  3. Then squeeze a lime or half a lime to water down the dressing.


Tum the mak hoong! (Pound the papaya):

  1. Now that you have the dressing, throw the shredded papaya and cherry tomatoes into the same mortar and lightly pound the dressing flavors into it! Use a spoon to mix and toss the salad as you pound.

Plate and serve:

  1. That's it! Serve the papaya salad with a fork and plate, drizzling the leftover dressing on top. If the flavors are too bold or spicy, just add more shredded papaya to dilute it.

Leftovers: Papaya Salad

How to properly put away your dish

  • If there's leftover dressing, use it to add some flavor to other dishes! We commonly add it to rice vermicelli noodles or use it as a dip for fruits and veggies (like mango and cucumber slices!).

  • Keep leftover papaya salad in the fridge (film wrapped bowl/plate, ziplock bags, or Tupperware). It'll be good for 1-2 weeks. 

  • No need to heat up. Consume when cold or leave it out to room temperature.