You might have heard of green papaya or green mango salad before, but it was probably the Thai/Laos version. This Cambodian take is that little bit different, and has it’s own, wonderful fresh flavor.
If you’ve dropped by before, you might have seen me talk about our honeymoon trip a good few years ago now to Laos, Thailand and Cambodia. While not specifically from that trip, I’ve shared a few Thai dishes like vegetarian Thai red curry, easy pad Thai and Thai green curry shrimp. I’ve also shared a number of Laos recipes here, such as chicken larp/larb, Luang Prabang salad (Laos salad) and green papaya salad (the latter found in Thailand too). However somehow I haven’t shared anything from Cambodia.
I suspect part of it is that’s where we had the least time on our trip, and while we enjoyed some tasty dishes, I didn’t take a lesson as I did in Laos. Thai food I am just generally more familiar with since it’s more widely found in the West. I decided recently, though, I must get back in to Cambodian food, and so am starting with this easy classic salad.
What’s the difference between a Cambodian green mango salad and a Thai one?
As with many dishes, you find variations in more than one place, especially neighbors like Thailand and Cambodia. This salad is a perfect example, where unripe fruit is kind of used as a vegetable to make a fresh, tasty salad. Using lime juice, fish sauce and sugar/palm sugar in the dressing is common to both. Then the main differences:
- the Thai version is typically spicy, while the Cambodian one is typically not.
- you’ll pretty much always use garlic in the Thai version; Cambodian versions sometimes use it, but if they do it’s usually less.
- Cambodian versions are nearly always with dried shrimp, while that’s less common in Thai ones.
- Thai salads might add green beans or bean sprouts, Cambodian versions would are more likely to add grated carrot or maybe beans.
- Cambodian salads have a range of variations with different seafood mixed in such of smoked fish, squid or grilled fish.
- Thai versions may add in some cilantro, Cambodian versions are more likely to add mint and/or basil/Thai basil.
What I have made here is a relatively typical, simple version of the Cambodian salad. It makes a great light appetizer as it is, but you could also add seafood, as I mention above, flaked or sliced up and mixed in for a fuller meal. You can also use it as a side eg to grilled meats, with summer rolls and more.
About the less common ingredients in the salad
If you are wondering what green mango is, it’s simply a regular mango that is not ripe. Don’t use one of the smaller yellow or Alfonso mangos, but the ones that are green sometimes with a little red on the outside. It should be firm to touch.
Dried shrimp might not be that common an ingredient, but they are pretty easy to find in Asian supermarkets and being dried, they will keep once opened for next time. In this salad, you rehydrate them a bit so they become slightly chewy. Don’t be put off at the idea, they really work well and aren’t as weird as you might think.
The rest is more common and the salad itself comes together in no time at all. It’s easy to vary to taste as well, using more herbs or none at all (although I think a little adds to the freshness), change cashews to peanuts or skip them, spice up or leave as it is.
See just how easy it is to make in this short video:
This Cambodian green mango salad is easy to make and wonderfully light and fresh. It’s perfect for a warm day and just the thing to add to many a meal. We’ve already had it a couple times and I can see it being a regular summer dish.
This Cambodian green mango salad is easy to make, light and versatile. Perfect for summer.
- 3 tbsp dried shrimp
- 1/2 green mango
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- 1/2 tbsp sugar (palm sugar more typical, but white or brown also fine)
- 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp mint (or basil/Thai basil or a mix of them)
- 2 tbsp unsalted roasted cashews (or peanuts)
Put the shrimp in a small bowl and cover with hot water. Leave to soak for around 10 minutes.
Meanwhile cut the half mango from the stone (save rest for another time or make a double batch). Peel and discard the skin then coarsely grate the flesh. Put in a medium bowl.
Mix together the lime juice, sugar and fish sauce and pour over the grated mango. Drain the shrimp, rinse if they seem grainy and add to the bowl.
Thinly slice the mint/basil and add it, along with the cashews and mix everything together.
(see video above)
Serves 2 as a small appetizer/side, or 1 as more of a light lunch. Obviously if you add squid/fish it will bulk it out more.
See the other seafood salads being shared today:
Remember to pin for later!