An ethnic dish that brings me back to Thailand – Papaya Salad (also known as Som Tum Thai). This salad can be firey when you add the chili peppers (or in my case accidentally a GHOST PEPPER which was far too much for my taste buds). But that being said, this recipe is totally customizeable.
This traditional Thai dish is one that I had every day for the 10 days I spent throughout my travels this past month in October 2015. Fresh, local ingredients of papaya, tomato, green beans and a garnish of cabbage with its combination flavors of lime juice, garlic, fish sauce, and chilis had me ordering this at least once a day (sometimes twice!!) Papaya contains a specific enzyme, papain which has digestive properties and is helpful for those with stomach discomfort. It’s soft buttery flesh can be green or orange in color and is easy for the intestines to move along the tract and digest. Rich in Vitamin C, A, and fiber this fruit provides wonderful nutritional benefits too! Dig in – it is one of my favorites and soon to be yours too!
SOM TUM TIPS AND TECHNIQUES:
- This dish is totally customizeable - add more lime juice, less sugar, extra chili pepper (or none at all) its up to you!
- Many Asian markets have pre-shredded green papaya. If you can't find it pre-shredded just buy a whole one, peel the outer skin, remove the inside seeds and shred using a regular cheese grater with medium-large sized holes. I used a food processor and used the "shred" option making it super easy and quick.
- If you can't find "green papaya" no worries, you can use regular tropical papaya (orange flesh), or even make a mix of papaya and cucumber or carrots.
- In Thailand, they used a mortar, pestle and spatula to smash and mix the ingredients in one bowl. I however, just used a large mixing bowl to smash the ingredients together.
- 2 cups Shredded Green Papaya
- 5 Cherry Tomatoes (or 1 Large Tomato cut into chunks)
- 2 Chili Peppers, chopped fine (or 1/4 of 1 ghost pepper ** BEWARE this is basically putting fire in your mouth)
- 1 Tbsp Fish Sauce (*If you are vegetarian swap with Tamari or Soy Sauce)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Handful of Fresh Green Beans (end stems removed)
- 1 Lime (Juice)
- 1 Tbsp Sugar (*You can swap with stevia)
- 1/4 cup Peanuts (*Optional)
- Shrimp is traditional (option to add tofu or chickpeas for extra protein)
- Red Onion
- Cilantro or Basil
- Using either a mortar and pestle OR using a large mixing bowl and spatula, smash the garlic clove first in the bowl, then add the green beans and cherry tomatoes pounding a few times to get the juice out.
- Add the chili peppers and crush them to release the hot flavors.
- Add the shredded papaya, fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, and optional peanuts, shrimp/tofu, and basil/cilantro. Continue to use your spatula or pestle to push the mixture down into the bowl releasing all the oils, juices and complementing flavors.
- Plate and serve as is or garnish with a sliver of green cabbage and fresh cut green beans on the side.