Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Thai Green Papaya Salad Som Tum

If you have ever been to Thailand there is no doubting that you have tried Som Tum, green Papaya Salad. This is by far the most delicious salad I have ever tasted, and if you are trying to shift a few pounds its an absolute winner. The Thing about thai salads is they never use oil in their dressings, but what they do use to flavour their salads are some seriously aromatic components, Thai food for me hits every flavour note, salty, sweet, sour, spicy and aromatic, this dish encompasses all of those elements. 
 Som Tum is eaten everywhere in Thailand and is a firm favourite with Hawker vendors, you have to be in awe of the street food in Thailand when you compare it to the lack lustre burgers, sausage sandwiches and chips that dominate English street food culture. Each Hawker cooks one dish only and they spend their lives perfecting it. Green papaya is the unripened version of the fruit and is not something that is not easily available, you can buy them in good asian supermarkets, but you can always substitute it with carrot. I really have to urge you to try this, I lived on this salad for three months and I never got sick of it, yes maybe sometimes I asked for too many chillies but I can assure you it's truly amazing.

You will need:

I tsp of maldon salt plus 1/4 tsp
1 garlic clove
2 red birds eye chillies (be careful they bite back)
5 tbsp of brown sugar
1 lemon grass stick, the inner part only
50 g of cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp of fish sauce
3 tbsp of salted peanuts
1 large green papaya julienned 
the juice of one lime
20 sweet basil leaves
a handful of snake beans or use french beans if you cannot get snake beans, cut into inch long pieces

Firstly peel the papaya and using a julienne peeler peel until you get down to the seeds, if you do not have a julienne peeler you can always peel long ribbons and finely slice the ribbons.
In a pestle and mortar crush the chillies, garlic and lemon grass using the teaspoon of salt and the sugar as an abrasive, when you have a fine paste add the cheery tomatoes and crush very carefully, you still want to have chunks of tomatoes. 
 Add the fish sauce, lime juice and the salted peanuts, lightly crush the nuts. Add the papaya into the dressing and give it a good bruising to break down the fibrous nature of the fruit. Add the Snake beans and the basil leaves to the salad and mix well. Serve this salad with steamed sticky rice and plump pink King prawns.

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