Green papaya salad

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Serves

    2

    as a starter

Appears in

I was first introduced to som tum by my Thai friend, Minty. And after finally making my own, I can see why she adores it so much. Papaya salad is a glorious interplay of briny soy sauce, fiery chilli and silky palm sugar. Although if you shy away from spice, I would suggest leaving the chillies out completely.

Should green papaya prove difficult to find at your local Asian store, try shredding some peeled and deseeded cucumber, courgettes (zucchini), or even sharp-tasting apples. Whatever you use, just make sure that it has firm, taut flesh, making it easy to transform into thin ribbons.

Use gluten-free breadcrumbs.

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: no cooking needed

Ingredients

  • 1 small green papaya
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ cup (60 g) green beans, cut into 2.5 cm lengths and blanched
  • peanuts and lime wedges, to garnish

Dressing

  • 1–2 bird’s eye chillies, deseeded and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind paste
  • 1 tablespoon grated palm sugar
  • 1 tablespoon crushed roasted peanuts
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

Method

First, peel and shred the green papaya – you want to end up with about 2 cups (180 g) shredded papaya. You can do this either with a julienne peeler, on the large holes of a cheese grater, or using the grater attachment of a food processor. Stop shredding as you get close to the core containing the white, immature seeds; discard the seeds and tough core. Keep the shredded papaya in the fridge while you prepare everything else.

Next make the dressing. Using a mortar and pestle, pound the chillies and garlic to a paste. Add the tamarind, palm sugar, peanuts and soy sauce. Continue to pound until you have a smooth dressing with small flecks of peanut in it.

Toss in the cherry tomatoes and green beans and bash them just to bruise them a little. Add the shredded papaya and use the pestle to distribute it evenly and coat it with the dressing. If your mortar and pestle isn’t big enough to hold everything at once, remove half of the dressing before adding the vegetables and work in two batches.

Serve the salad garnished with peanuts and lime wedges.