If you want something a little different, with an Asian flair, try this lovely fresh green papaya salad.
You need to buy smaller, unripe papaya for this recipe. It is hard and shreds well. Thai people eat papaya often, including green papaya.
This refreshing recipe comes from a cookbook called Simply Vegetarian Thai Cooking: 125 Real Thai Recipes by Nancie McDermott. It is full of delicious vegetarian Thai recipes for everything from appetizers to desserts like Thai tea ice cream. You can find our review of the cookbook here.
The directions call for a heavy mortar and pestle. You can still make this recipe without one. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, please see the Tip below the recipe for directions.
Green Papaya Salad
- 2 serrano chiles, green, fresh, or 1 fresh green jalapeño
- 1 tablespoon garlic, coarsely chopped (4 to 6 cloves)
- 1 tablespoon shallots, coarsely chopped
- 1 papaya, small hard, green unripe, peeled and finely shredded, (about 2 cups or 500 mL)
- 9 green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch (5 cm) lengths
- 2 teaspoons palm sugar, or brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons vegetable stock
- 1/2 lime, quartered lengthwise
- 9 cherry tomatoes, quartered
- In a large heavy mortar, combine the chiles, garlic and shallots. Grind and pound with a pestle until everything is broken down but not completely mushy. Use a spoon to scrape down the sides occasionally and mix everything together well. (See the tip below if you don't have a mortar and pestle).
- Add papaya and pound until the stiff shreds become limp and soft, about 3 minutes. Use the spoon to scrape and turn the mixture over as you work.
- Add green beans and pound to bruise. One at a time, add sugar, salt and stock, pounding a little after each addition. Squeeze in juice from each piece of lime and then add pieces of squeezed lime to the mortar as well. Add tomatoes and pound another minute, turning as before as the tomatoes release some of their liquid. Pound more gently so that you do not get splashed.
- Taste sauce in bottom of the mortar and adjust the seasonings (there should be an interesting balance of sour, hot, salty and sweet). Using a slotted spoon, transfer salad to a small serving platter. Drizzle on some of the sauce remaining in the mortar and serve at once.
- If you do not have a heavy Thai-style mortar and pestle, here is a shortcut version: To crush and bruise shredded papaya, place in a big plastic bag on your cutting board, leaving the bag open. Pound with a cooking mallet or rolling pin, working it until all the shreds are limp and bruised. Transfer to a bowl.
- In a blender or mini processor, combine chile, garlic, shallots, sugar, salt and stock and blend until fairly smooth. Toss with the papaya. Add the green beans and pound to bruise. Add the tomatoes and squeeze the juice from the lime quarters over the salad, tossing in the lime pieces when you are done. Using your hands, toss the salad again, squeezing the salad to crush tomatoes so they release some of their juice as you mix in the lime. Transfer to a deep serving platter and serve at once.
Here is what Nancie says about her papaya salad recipe:
“This sparkling tangle of shredded unripe papaya, juicy tomatoes, shallots and garlic is infused with an incendiary combination of lime juice, palm sugar and chiles. Known by its Laotian name, som tum, this rustic, intensely flavored dish is made from simple ingredients that epitomize the cuisine and spirit of northeastern Thailand.”
Sounds absolutely yummy Nancie. Thanks.
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This recipes comes to us courtesy of Simply Vegetarian Thai Cooking by Nancie McDermott, 2015 © www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with publisher permission.