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Mar 20, 2009 03:26 PM

MSP-Papaya and Chiles

Looking to make my own papaya salad. Do supermarkets like Byerlys, Cub, etc.. carry Papaya and thai chiles or would I have to go to a speciality market? If so, anyone know of one in the western suburbs?

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  1. Generally, you can find them in the regular supermarkets. The quality of papayas will vary, though.

    1. You need really green papayas, not semi-ripe ones, which might not be available in an "occidental" grocery store (their papayas are intended to be eaten very ripe). And you'll definitely want Thai chilis, fish sauce, palm sugar, dried shrimp, and sticky rice (technically optional, but essential in my book).

      Plus, depending on the style of papaya salad you want to make, you might also need Thai eggplants and/or tamarind paste. And even pickled crab or mudfish. (Google "som tom lao" for a Lao-style papaya salad recipe - my absolute favorite!)

      Don't know about you, but I haven't seen these items at Byerly's lately. They're not even at Cub (despite the glorious selection of around-the-world foods at the Hi-Lake Cub).

      I'm an inner-city gal, myself, so I haven't been to any western-metro Asian grocery store. If you're not up for a trip to United Noodles (and if you are, get VERY specific directions first), I think there are a few Asian groceries in Bloomington and Burnsville. But you'll need to google for info, or wait for someone else to chip in. (Perhaps MSPD has the info you need...)


      1. They have all the fixings (green papaya, fish sauce, limes, dragon chilis, long beans, shrimp paste, even pickle crab etc) at United Noodles in Minneapolis (I have no idea about the suburbs). This is their main store across from Coastal, rather than the MGM store.

        We make this at home often, and all the ingredients purchased the first time are under $20, after which you really only need by the produce (papaya, tomatoes, beans, chilis,).

        3 Replies
        1. re: Foureyes137

          And if you go to United Noodle, you might be able to find an official papaya shredder, like the one shown in this link:

          If I didn't live within 3 miles of many great places for papaya salad, I might head to the U.N. myself for the ingredients. I'm too lazy right now, but someday...


          1. re: AnneInMpls

            If anyone is interested I found all the ingredients at Asian Direct which is right off of Potland and 494. They only had Vietnamese fish sauce so I went with 3 crabs. I was really looking for Golden Boy. The chili's I got there were a little dissapointment also. I used around 10 of them in my salad and they weren't very hot. I will have to search for the dragon Chili's. It is a godsend to have eveything to make my own Som Tum though.

            1. re: dave43

              Thanks for the report! How admirable of you to make your own. I'm inspired to follow your example, even though I live less than a mile away from two places with decent versions - Jasmine Orchid and True Thai.

              Homemade Som Tum on Sunday would be a lovely thing! (These restaurants are closed on Sunday.)