Green Papaya Salad
Did you forget I had a blog? I know it’s been a while. Let me preface this blog post by admitting that I just haven’t felt joyous enough about food in the last little while to amuse you with my ramblings. The floods in Queensland knocked my socks off. And while I wasn’t personally affected, plenty of folks I know were. Mother Nature really hasn’t let up since then and I am still saddened by the ongoing problems in Japan but it is time I jumped back on the blog-wagon.
Re-inspired after a shopping trip to Inala with Sally Lynch of Taste Trekkers www.tastetrekkers.com.au this is a little story about a pig and a papaya.
We were at neighbour’s home enjoying a suckling pig on a spit, which he had caught himself (no, I do not live next door to Bear Grylls), with a bunch of other neighbours and friends. It was the first time I’d met one neighbour who is a Thai chef, Joe, who spoke very little English. His partner speaks Thai, so together they could converse with us all. United by a love of food, they invited us all to lunch the following day at their home and I got a special invitation to go an hour earlier to have a mini cooking class with Joe.
Gratefully, I took notes like a crazy woman, asked a million questions and in broken English, got the scoop on possibly the best, most versatile Thai ‘sauce’. This sauce is the dressing for the Green Papaya Salad we made that day (among other dishes) but can also be used hot, over fish or chicken. If you have ever eaten at The Spirit House and had the whole fish, you may recognise this as the brown sauce served with the fish with chilli and garlic added.
Traditionally, in the area Joe is from, they would eat this with some glutinous rice and a roast chicken, eaten with their hands, as we did that fine day.
In a nasty twist of irony, I am wickedly allergic to paw paw, ripe or unripe. Yep! Love it, but itchy for days. I have recently been somewhat relieved from this by discovering pre-shredded, fresh papaya on my shopping trip to Inala. My new best friend.
This is a wow salad. Fresh, tasty and delightful. I usually serve it with some bbq garlic prawns and sticky rice. Please let me know what you think or your own version.
|Green Papaya Salad with BBQ Garlic Prawns and Sticky Rice|
Joe's Green Papaya Salad
1 green papaya
2 cloves garlic, peeled
4 birdseye chilli, whole
6 cherry tomatoes
½ cup raw peanuts
½ block tamarind paste (or a jar of prepared tamarind)
2 cups warm water
6 tablespoons brown sugar
6 tablespoons fish sauce
For the sauce – this can be made ahead of time
In a small saucepan add the tamarind and water. Place on low heat and break up with a wooden spoon until the water is brown and the tamarind seems dissolved. Pass through a fine sieve, discard the pulp. (this step can be replaced with using some prepared tamarind paste from a jar – about 2 tablespoons). Place the tamarind water in a small saucepan over low heat and add sugar and fish sauce. Bring to the boil, stirring often. Once to a boil, reduce heat and allow to reduce and thicken slightly. Skim off any impurities. Taste for balance and adjust accordingly. Transfer to a jar or bowl and refrigerate.
For the salad
Roast peanuts. Crush and set aside for garnish.
Peel and grate the papaya (or use a mandolin to shred is preferable for me, but Joe used a grater!) and place on your large serving dish.
In a mortar and pestle, pound garlic, chilli, a decent pinch of salt and about 2 tablespoons of the grated papaya. Tumble that onto the serving dish and toss through with about 8 tablespoons of your dressing and most of the peanuts. Garnish with remaining crushed peanuts.