This Thai green papaya curry with shrimp is a childhood favorite. It's a simple Thai dish with crunchy textures and a mild flavor made with green papaya, succulent shrimp, and homemade Gaeng Som curry paste!
Learn how to cut a papaya here with this helpful post.
- What is Green Papaya Curry
- Why You'll Love This Recipe
- What is Gaeng Som Malagou?
- Ingredients for Thai Papaya Curry
- How to Make Thai Green Papaya Curry
- Garnishing Options
- Helpful Kitchen Notes and Tips
- Where to Buy Green Papayas
- Recipes using Green Papaya
- Helpful Kitchen Tools for This Recipe
- What to Serve With Thai Papaya Curry
- Variations & Substitutes
- Frequently Asked Questions
- More Thai Recipes You'll Love
- Easy Thai Green Papaya Curry with Shrimp
- Related Recipes You'll Love
What is Green Papaya Curry
Made with raw green papaya and napa cabbage, juicy jumbo shrimp, and homemade Gaeng Som Paste. This simple version of Thailand's Gaeng Som is packed with fresh and simple ingredients with authentic Thai flavors.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- It's a simple and easy recipe using minimal ingredients and comes together quickly!
- Healthy! It's a healthy curry Bursting with fresh and vibrant ingredients.
- Flavors galore! A perfect balance of sour and savory notes.
- It's versatile. This green papaya curry can be served as a complete meal or as one of the side dishes in a family-style dinner.
What is Gaeng Som Malagou?
Gaeng Som Malagou (แกงส้มมะละกอ), is a sour soup or curry using young crispy green papaya, a distinctive dish known for its sour undertones and rich, aromatic herbs.
This recipe offers a unique twist on traditional Thai curries by omitting coconut milk, resulting in light and tangy flavors.
Ingredients for Thai Papaya Curry
There are two parts to this list of ingredients for this raw papaya recipe.
Gaeng Som Paste
- Thai dried chilis (long chilis or bird’s eye chilis). Adjust the spice level here from mild to spicy heat. I like mine with the medium heat level, so around 4-5 peppers. Learn more about different Thai spices here.
- Krachai. The most important herb for this curry. Find it in a glass jar or the freezer section at the Asian market. Read more about Thai herbs here.
- Shallot. Adds a strong aromatic flavor to the paste.
- Salt. Add a touch of salt to balance out the sourness and saltiness.
- Shrimp paste. This is an important ingredient for adding umami and seafood flavors to the soup. Read more about essential ingredients in Thai kitchens here.
- Large shrimp (3 for the paste, rest left whole for the curry). The 3 pieces of shrimp will add texture and flavor to the base of the soup.
Papapa Curry Ingredients
- Water or low-salt stock or broth. This curry is more soup-like than curries. Lots of water or stock will be used.
- Green papaya, chopped into 2-inch pieces. Make sure to peel off the green skin first!
- Napa cabbage. Slice the cabbage into long, thin pieces. Use both the leafy and the crunchy white stems.
- Fish sauce. Adds the salty and umami flavor to the sour curry. Learn more about different Thai sauces here.
- Sugar. Brown or palm sugar works, too.
- Tamarind juice. Tamarind juice is the traditional ingredient for Thai sour soups. Lime or lemon juice can stand in as substitutes, but the sharp tang will alter the flavors slightly.
How to Make Thai Green Papaya Curry
Step 1. Peel and shred the unripe papaya using a sharp knife. Chop the papaya into small pieces, around 2-inch pieces. Set aside.
Step 2. Remove the seeds from the dried peppers and soak the chilis in hot water for 5-10 minutes.
Step 3. Make the curry paste in a small food processor by combining dried chilis, Krachai, shallot, shrimp paste, 3 raw shrimp, and 2 tablespoons of water.
Blitz until you have a smooth paste.
Step 4. Combine the paste and cold water in a soup pot, bringing it to a gentle boil.
Step 5. Add the chopped papaya and cook until fork tender, about 7-8 minutes.
Step 6. Add the chopped Napa cabbage, whole shrimp, fish sauce, sugar, and salt. Cook for an additional 2 minutes.
Step 7. Stir in tamarind juice last, taste-test the curry, and adjust the balance with more fish sauce, tamarind pulp, or sugar if needed. Done!
Pro Tip: Enjoy this Thai green papaya curry with cooked jasmine rice for an extra flavor.
This simple soup doesn't need much garnishing except lime wedges or chili flakes for added heat. Enjoy it with jasmine rice, or slurp it away as a stand-alone soup!
Helpful Kitchen Notes and Tips
- Without coconut milk, this curry leans towards a soup-like consistency, offering a tangy twist similar to the famous Thai Tom Yum flavors.
- Fish can be an excellent substitution for shrimp.
- Make sure the green papaya is cooked until tender to maximize flavor.
- Make extra paste for other dishes, soups, stir-fries, or curries. You can also freeze the paste for other uses at a later time.
- Know that the less red chilis you use, the more precise the broth is. So the more peppers you use, the spicer it is.
Where to Buy Green Papayas
Find green, young papayas at most Asian grocery stores. Trader Joe's often has them, too, and they are more on the ripe side with orangish skin.
Feel around for the most firm and unripe papaya you can find for this recipe.
Read this extensive post about papaya here.
Recipes using Green Papaya
Growing up, we had a few papaya trees growing in our yard. It seems we never ran out of papayas for all the Som Tum we ate and all the other papaya recipes we enjoyed.
Some of our favorite dishes to make with them are mostly simple salads like Som Tam Thai, Thai green papaya salad recipe, Lao papaya salad, also with shredded papaya and shredded papaya stir fries with eggs. They are also popular in soups and curries or are used as garnishes in several dishes.
Helpful Kitchen Tools for This Recipe
- A vegetable peeler. These are handy for shredding papaya and making a som tam salad.
- A julienne peeler.
- A sharp knife for peeling the skin and for slicing the papaya.
- A small food processor is needed to make the flavorful paste.
What to Serve With Thai Papaya Curry
Pair this green papaya curry with crab fried rice, Thai vegetable stir fry or Thai spicy shrimp salad for an extra layer of Thai flavor. It serves well as a main dish or as part of a family-style Thai meal.
Variations & Substitutes
Experiment with alternative proteins like lobster, shrimp, fish, or scallops instead of shrimp for a personalized touch.
Store any leftover green papaya curry in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Is pawpaw curry the same as Thai papaya curry?
No, pawpaw curry is not the same asaya curry. They may sound similar because both are referred to as pawpaw or papaya in different regions, but the ingredients and flavors used in their curries are different.
Pawpaw curry typically includes coconut cream and whole spices like cumin seeds, mustard seeds, coriander powder, curry leaves, green chilies, turmeric powder, and garlic cloves.
The Thai version of the papaya curry has more fresh ingredients like shallot, Chinese finger roots, water, and tamarind pulp.
Frequently Asked Questions
Green papaya curry offers a healthy and nutritious option, rich in vitamins and flavors.
Factors such as demand, seasonality, and region can influence the pricing of green papayas.
Green papaya has a crunchy texture and hardly any flavor, making it an excellent ingredient that can take on many flavors of different dishes.
Yes, it is. Cooked green papaya retains its nutritional value and adds a unique flavor to dishes.
More Thai Recipes You'll Love
- Thai green bean salad with yard-long beans.
- Lao cucumber salad
- Thai green mango salad
- Thai basil fried rice
- Thai green seafood sauce with green chillies
- How to make Thai sticky rice
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