Green papaya is just the younger, unripe version of the orange fleshed variety that you are probably used to.
Unless you have a good Thai or South East Asian supplier nearby, a green papaya is not going to be easy to come by. But hey, in this modern world of online shopping, hardly anything is impossible to get your hands on. Right? Even Amazon stocks it!
Green papaya has a dark green skin with a very, very pale flesh. It is crunchy and very, very bland! Practically tasteless! So unlike the green mango, the green papaya doesn’t contribute in terms of taste. Which, in my kitchen means that it can be easily substituted.
Green Papaya Substitute
I see many people suggesting using an ordinary, ripe papaya as a substitute if you can’t get the green one. Let me tell you that that’s just not going to work. Ripe papayas are sweet with a hint of cream. That’s just going to mess with the taste.
Some other folks suggest cucumbers. That might work, but I think they are just not “hard enough”. So what do I think makes the best substitute for the green papaya? White cabbage. Plain and simple. It’s bland. It’s crunchy. And rather conveniently, it’s the same colour! I’m amazed that I’ve never seen it suggested before. That’s right folks, you heard it right here on LinsFood first – cabbage is the best substitute for green papaya! Thinly shred or slice the cabbage and use in the exact same way.
Recipes using Green Papaya
Green papaya is quite often used as a meat tenderiser in India, and I know from experience, that it is a wonderful “extra” in curries. While it doesn’t add to the flavour, it certainly adds texture and fibre.
And here, on LinsFood, you’ll find it used in the Thai Green Papaya Salad: