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Papaya salad, or Goi du du in Vietnamese, is among one the many dishes in Ho Chi Minh City's street foods paradise. This simple snack has always been the favorite of the locals for many years, but it might be something new for you as a traveler to try.
The origin of papaya salad is still unclear, but it is a popular dish in many countries in Southeast Asia. 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 in the area near the Thai border, and its name in these two countries also sounds similar "tam som" and "som tam". In Vietnam, there are people who believe that the origin of this salad is Chinese ethnicity, while some say that it may be from a northern province, Nam Dinh.
Even though no one knows exactly when the papaya salad became a common dish, or where it originated, and the ingredients and the way they are processed are slightly different across countries, all of the variations use green papaya as the main ingredient and have a distinctive sour taste.
Papaya is a familiar Vietnamese fruit in our daily meals. It is a nutritious fruit, high in vitamins such as vitamins A, C, and E but contains very low calories. Moreover, papaya is said to be a potent source of potassium and fiber which helps with the digestion system and heart problems. The nutrition of this fruit is probably why papayas, both green and ripe ones, 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 mostly 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 constantly 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 down 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 have enjoyed this Vietnamese street food; from children to adults and even the elderly, 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.
Vietnamese papaya salad is similar to the Thai variation, which tastes very 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, some 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 come to 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 in the sauce.
Do you want to try this delicious Vietnamese street food? These food stalls we name below are the most popular and favorite of the locals, selling beef jerky papaya salad.
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
Ho Chi Minh is one of the best street food paradises in Southeast Asia. As long as 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.
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