When I land in Thailand this is the first dish I seek out. On the streets of Thailand, a tall clay mortar with a large wooden pestle signals the rhythmic pounding that characterizes this dish. Vendors make salads to order. Don’t be surprised if they offer you a taste to see if you like how they seasoned it, speak up, this is your chance to tweak the flavors to suite your palate. This Northeast Thai favorite is served sticky rice, to cool its fiery bite. Though it’s traditional to add fermented crabs, this is one time I throw tradition to the wind. The rank flavor and aroma of that condiment is too much for even my seasoned palate. One version I did especially like had slivers of thin-skinned limes pounded right in with the papaya. Their essential oils perfumed the simultaneously chewy and crunchy salad.
© 2008 Robert Danhi. All rights reserved.