Happy Friday! I've been on a serious Thai food kick lately. One thing that is a staple at any Thai restaurant is the Som Tum, or green papaya salad. It's a simple shredded mixture in a delicious fish sauce and lime juice dressing. My favorite place in New York serves it up extra spicy with preserved crab.
I tend to crave particularly bold and flavorful foods whenever I'm sick (don't you hate not being able to taste anything?) so when the craving struck, I walked myself to the grocery store and bought the green-ist papya I could find. Only when I brought it home and cut it open did I realize that oopsies, it was not actually green.
I chopped it up anyways and tasted it. Papaya has the texture of a mango, but it wasn't overly sweet so I decided to make a crunchy salad of it by adding diced cucumber and using the same dressing that traditional Som Tum does.
For the Som Tum Dressing:
- juice of 1 lime
- 1.5 tbsp fish sauce
- 1.5 tbsp palm sugar (regular sugar works well, too)
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 2 small red chilies, finely minced
The idea is to use equal proportions of lime juice, fish sauce, and sugar. Combine the lime, fish sauce, sugar, garlic, and chilies in a bowl and whisk to combine. Let this sit for at least 30 minutes to let the the flavors meld and the garlic lightly pickle.
For the papaya cucumber salad:
- 1/4 of a cup or so of Som Tum dressing
- 4 stalks green onions or scallions, chopped
- 1/2 papaya, peeled and diced (pick one that is firmer so that it isn't mushy)
- 1 medium sized cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
- (optional) toasted black sesame seeds, chopped fresh cilantro
Prepare and chop the vegetables, taking care to scoop the seeds out of the papaya and cucumber. This salad stands up well to time, so feel free to make in advance to bring it on a picnic or eat later. I made a double batch of the dressing and used the other half to dress a simple salad of lettuce, red onion, avocado, cucumbers, and tomatoes. Serve with Thai marinated flank steak.