Thinly sliced papaya is the star of this dish. The papaya is carefully selected since it needs the right amount of ripeness to give the dish the correct texture and sweetness.
A food vendor, who has been selling this salad for over 10 years in Tri Ton District, said the sliced papaya needs to be soaked in saltwater and kept next to ice to retain its crispness.
A woman is getting some sliced papaya. Photo by VnExpress/Di Vy.
Other vegetables like spinach, cowpeas and carrots are then placed in a large mortar and pestle along with mam ruoc or mam ba khia (special fermented sauce), sugar, salt, monosodium glutamate, red onion, garlic, chili, and lime.
The sweetness and crunchy texture of the papaya and the aroma of the herbs combine with the sour and spice of the lime and chili to create an explosion of flavors in the mouth.
You can order a duck egg to eat with it as locals do.
Visitors can try this dish at Rina, an eatery on Provincial Road 955B in Tri Ton District, that is always packed with customers in the evenings.