Papaya salad, or “Goi du du” in Vietnamese, is among the many dishes in Ho Chi Minh City’s street foods paradise. This simple snack has been the locals’ favorite for many years, but it might be something new for you as a traveler to try.
Origin of the Papaya Salad
The origin of papaya salad is still unclear, but it is a popular dish in many Southeast Asian countries. Most people may know of the dish from its famous spicy Thai variation. However, some people say that papaya salad is a dish of a Laos ethnic living near the Thai border, and its name in these two countries also sounds similar “tam som” and “som tam”. In Vietnam, some people believe that the origin of this salad is Chinese ethnicity, while some say it may be from a northern province, Nam Dinh.
No one knows for sure when the papaya salad became a popular dish or its origin. Though the ingredients and the recipe are slightly different across countries, all variations use green papaya as the main ingredient and have a distinctive sour taste.
Papaya Salad in Vietnam
Papaya is a familiar Vietnamese fruit in our daily meals. The nutrition of this fruit is probably why green and ripe papayas have become an essential ingredient along with other vegetables in several recipes. While the ripe ones are usually eaten as a dessert or used in dessert recipes, the green papayas are primarily used in salads, side dishes, or stewed soups. The sweet and sour papaya salad is a regular snack, wedding dish, and family meal.
“Goi du du” is on the top list of must-eat street foods in Ho Chi Minh City. Enjoying delicious green papaya salad on hot summer days helps cool the heat. The appealing combination of sweet, sour, and spicy tastes has made the dish even more and more popular. And thanks to the tropical climate, papaya is available all year round. Other main ingredients are also sold at a low price, so the dish’s price is reasonable.
Many generations of locals, from children to adults and even the elderly, have enjoyed this Vietnamese street food and love the beef jerky in the papaya salad. “Goi du du” has been deeply attached to many students’ life over the years. Hanging out together at a food stall selling papaya salad after school has become their habit.
How to Make Vietnamese Papaya Salad
Vietnamese papaya salad is similar to the Thai variation, which tastes spicy. Vietnamese people have made this dish sweeter to suit the locals’ taste. The raw papaya and carrot are shaved into thin strips and mixed with herbs like basil and coriander, roasted peanuts, and sweet and sour sauce made from soy sauce, Chinese red vinegar, and chili. Soy sauce mixed with vinegar is used instead of fish sauce and lime, which makes it different from the rest of Vietnamese salads.
In Ho Chi Minh City, pieces of crunchy fried cracker, fried shrimp, and chewy beef jerky, made from cow organs, especially the lungs and the livers, are added to the papaya salad. Despite its look, the taste at first bite will win your taste buds over. When you visit Ho Chi Minh City, you’ll see plenty of street food stalls serving papaya salad. Make sure to stop by and give “goi du du” a try on your tour around towns.
You must take note that the salad is made from fresh green papaya, dressed in a soy sauce-vinegar mixture, which can taste very sour. So, if raw fruits and sour dishes can upset your stomach easily, you may want to consider whether or not you should try this dish. And if you are not accustomed to spicy food, you can also ask them to leave out the chili.
Where to Eat Vietnamese Papaya Salad in Ho Chi Minh City
Location 1: 93 Cach Mang Thang 8 Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1
Price: VND 20,000/dish
Opening time: 7 AM – 10 PM
Location 2: 107 Nguyen Van Thu Street, Da Kao Ward, District 1
Price: VND 15,000/dish
Opening time: 1:30 PM – 6:30 PM
Location 3: Le Van Tam Park, Hai Ba Trung Street, District 3
Price: VND 20,000 VND/dish
Opening time: 1 PM – 8 PM
Location 4: 757 Hoang Sa Street, District 3
Price: VND 15,000+/dish
Opening time: 7 AM – 10 PM
Summary of Vietnamese Street Foods: The Papaya Salad
Ho Chi Minh is one of Southeast Asia’s best street food paradises. If you travel here and try “goi du du” once, you won’t forget it. If you have ever tried this tasty papaya salad, share your experience with us in the comment below.