Papaya & tomato salted crab salad (Bok lahong)

The Cambodian name “Bok lahong” means “pounding papaya”. This savoury salad uses unripe papaya which is green on the outside and has a slightly tangy flavor. The texture is crisp and firm hence why it is being beaten in the mortar for the preparation of Bok lahong.

Many versions of this salad exists in Cambodia although all versions will always use unripe papaya. Green papaya is also used in other Cambodian dishes such as soups. The salad is prepared by shredding the papaya into fine strips. Other ingredients include salted crab, tomatoes, snake beans and peanuts. Another known version of this recipe is one which has smoked fish in it. Fresh herbs can be added to the salad. Bok lahong is traditionally served with steamed rice and grilled chicken.

In Cambodia, Bok lahong only costs few cents and when you buy it, it is often made to order at many street side stalls. This way you can tell them how hot you want your Bok lahong! So deliciously different and crunchy.

Preparation: 20 mins
Cooking: –
Complexity: medium
Serves: 5


  • 1 unripe green papaya deseeded, peeled, shredded finely and soaked in water for 1 hr
  • 1 cup snake beans cut 1 inch pieces
  • 2 tbsp peanuts roasted and coarsely crushed
  • 2 tomatoes cut into wedges
  • 2 salted crab
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 4 bird’s eye chili
  • 2 tbsp palm sugar crushed
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 lime juiced


  1. Add garlic, chili, shrimp and crab in a mortar and pound with pestle until crushed.
  2. Add papaya. Pound for 1 min.
  3. Add tomatoes and beans. Pound for 1 min.
  4. Transfer ingredients in mortar to a mixing bowl and add remaining ingredients.
  5. Gently combine. Taste and adjust flavor combination to achieve a sweet, salty, sour balance.


  • Serve cold on its own or with grilled meat and steamed rice.



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