Cuttlefish with papaya salad

Jun Tanaka transforms this often overlooked cephalopod into a fabulous hot and sour Thai-style salad that makes a great main course or summer starter
By Jun Tanaka
Cuttlefish with papaya salad
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 1-2 as a main course, 4 as a starter
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes plus 30 mins marinating
  • Effort: easy


For the cuttlefish

  • 1 cuttlefish, cleaned, scored and cut into triangles (you can ask your fishmonger to do this for you)
  • 1/2 green (unripe) papaya, seeds removed, peeled, flesh roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil

For the dressing

  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 1/2 small hot green chilli
  • 1/2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp Thai fish sauce, (nam pla)
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar
  • 1 lime, juice only

For the salad

  • 1 green (unripe) papaya, halved, seeds removed
  • handful green beans, blanched
  • 3 tbsp unsalted peanuts, toasted
  • 3 tbsp Thai basil


1. For the cuttlefish: mix the cuttlefish and green papaya together in a bowl and set aside (the papaya will tenderize the cuttlefish).

2. For the dressing: in a pestle and mortar pound all the dressing ingredients, apart from the lime juice, into a thick paste. Mix in the lime juice and set aside.

3. For the salad: use a vegetable peeler to shave the papaya flesh into thin slices then shred these slices into thin strips.

4. In a bowl, mix together the sliced green papaya, toasted peanuts and green beans and tear over the basil. Set aside.

5. To cook the cuttlefish, heat the oil in a pan over a high heat until smoking then tip in the cuttlefish and its papaya marinade. Cook for 1 minute or until tinged with golden brown at the edges but still very tender in the middle - take care not to overcook the cuttlefish or it will become tough and rubbery.

6. Tip the cuttlefish and papaya into the cold green papaya salad, pour over the dressing and mix together. Taste and adjust the flavours if necessary by adding more lime juice, Thai fish sauce or palm sugar. Serve straight away.

Rate This Recipe