VIETNAMESE DRIED BEEF AND GREEN PAPAYA SALAD

 Nộm bò khô (Dried beef and green papaya salad) is a classic Vietnamese street food. A jumble of flavors, from the fiery jerky beef to the slightly sweet green papaya, it is a great balance of hot and cold. While the crunchy herbs and vegetables in this salad create the vibrant and summery touch, the utterly spicy beef and nutty crushed peanuts add soul to the whole dish. Refreshing and toothsome, it is an appetizing treat for anyone who wish to discover our cuisine.

DRIED BEEF AND GREEN PAPAYA SALAD – THE SALAD OF THE STREETS

I still remember sitting near Hoan Kiem Lake and digging in a bowl of dried beef and green papaya salad when I was a child. It was a day of unbroken sunshine. On the pavements, flocks of people gathered around a small stall while hurriedly munching on their salad bowls. There were no table or chair, just passers-by who were looking for a quick re-energized snack. The ear-catching sounds from the constantly working scissors, fresh aroma of lemons, herbs and veggies and the spicy fibers of beef are enough to catch the attention of any foodie.

CREDIT: tiin.vn

Dried beef and green papaya salad has a rooting history in Vietnamese street gastronomy. It has been in Hanoi’ Old Quarters and Saigon’s winding backstreets for a long time. Around the curbsides’ corners, parks and local markets, vendors sell the dish for less than $2. There are different versions of this salad, including papaya salad with shrimp and pork, with dried beef liver, and with beef jerky, but the last one is the most favored.

Dried beef and green papaya salad is also considered a family food for its easy-to-make and easy-to-eat nature. Even on special occasions, such as wedding parties or death anniversaries, it is served as an appetizer.

GREEN, NOT RIPEN PAPAYAS

Green papayas are everywhere in Vietnam. Strong along the rural areas of our country and you will see the thin, palm-like papaya trees with green papayas dangling from the branches. Here we don’t use ripen papayas to make food because they are sweet and mush. The green ones, on the other hand, are almost tasteless and hence, can be used as the salads’ “sponge” (by which I mean they absorb the spices and condiments’ flavors.)


When you choose a green papaya from nearby Asian markets, make sure that it is shiny, firm to the touch and free of any blotchy areas. You can store it in a fridge up to 3 days by wrapping a paper towel around its outer skin.

Before using the papaya for your salads, it is essential to prepare it first. Peel the papaya with a vegetables peeler and then cut off the stem. Separate it into halves lengthwise and scoop out its seeds with a spoon. Shred the papaya, wash it with water and add in a tad of salt. Then mix and rinse.

CREDIT: eva.vn

THAT “TAKING THE ROOF OFF YOUR MOUTH” BEEF JERKY

Vietnamese beef jerky is chewy, reddish and has a sweet-spicy taste. If you can’t manage to find the right one around the corner, one alternative is to cook it yourself.

Choose a lean cut (sirloin, frank steak, and top round will do) and remove all fat from the meat. Slice your meat into thin strips before marinating with salt, sugar, garlic, oil, ginger and chili to taste. Allow the beef 1 night to soak up the flavors and then put it in the oven to dry.

CREDIT: quinhon11.com

THE DIY RECIPE: MAKING NỘM BÒ KHÔ (VIETNAMESE DRIED BEEF AND GREEN PAPAYA SALAD)

Ingredients
– 1 medium-sized papaya
– ½ pound beef jerky
– 3 tbs peanuts (roasted and mashed)
– Vietnamese coriander, mint and basil (chopped)

Salad Dressing
– 1 tbs vinegar
– 1 tbs lemon juice
– 5 garlic gloves (minced)
– 3 tbs fish sauce
– 1 tbs sugar
– 1 cup of water
– 2 chilis (minced)
Instructions
  • Prepare the papayas (see above instruction).

  • Make the salad dressing by throwing everything together and then stir evenly.

  • Toss shredded papaya with the herbs.

  • Top the dish with beef jerky strips and your salad dressing.

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