What is the Difference between Laos & Thai Papaya Salad
The core difference between Thai green papaya salad and Laos green papaya salad is the liquid component of the recipe along with the topping.
Thai papaya salad, referred to as Som Tam, uses mainly fish sauce as the flavoring condiment and is generally topped with crushed roasted peanut.
Laos papaya salad, referred to as Tam Mak Hoong, uses fermented crab dip (nam pu) and padaek as flavoring condiments
The classic green papaya salad is loved throughout southeast Asia in various forms, but the two most popular are the Thai and Lao style papaya salad.
Padaek, sometimes known as padek, or Lao fish sauce or pla-ra in Thailand, is a traditional Lao condiment made from pickled or fermented fish that has been cured. It is thicker and more seasoned than the fish sauce more commonly seen throughout Thailand and Vietnam, often containing chunks of fish. The fermentation takes a long time, giving padaek an aroma similar to cheeses like Époisses.
Unlike other versions of fish sauce in Southeast Asia, padaek is made from freshwater fish, owing to the landlocked nature of the former kingdom of Lan Xang. Padaek is used in many dishes, most notably tam maak hoong, a spicy Lao papaya salad.