Simple dishes providing simple pleasures are sometimes the best way to start a meal. The Thai green papaya salad is one of those appetizers that is very easy to make and can provide a wonderful start to a meal whether it be Asian, or otherwise.
The Thai dining experience follows a set of texture and flavor rules that span the entire meal. Texture: both soft and crunchy. Flavor: Sweet, sour and spicy. The Green Papaya is actually very crunchy, like thick shredded carrot; in fact, carrot has been known to be a substitute if papaya isn’t available.
The recipe below is what I made in Thailand. This dish can be modified to your personal tastes, but this recipe is made in the Thai tradition — extremely spicy. If you don’t like spicy food, you can skip the chili or sub a low-spice pepper like an Anaheim or Colorado. If you absolutely love spicy food, but aren’t Thai, I would recommend you start with half the chili content shown below and add more as you see fit. If you want to build this into a main side to any entree, add in some cold rice noodles and your chosen cold protein.
Thai Green Papaya Salad
With large mortar & pestle, pound into coarse paste:
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
6 bird’s eye chilies (start with 1-3)
2 Tbsp dried shrimp (optional, adds saltiness)
Add & gently mash together:
1/2 Cup cherry tomatoes, halved (sub larger tomato in quarters)
1/2 Cup raw long beans, cut to 1″ pieces (sub green beans)
Gently muddle in:
1 Tbsp palm sugar
1 Tbsp fish sauce (sub soy sauce)
Juice of 1/2 lime (~2 Tbsp)
Toss to coat, then aggressively mix until well combined:
1/4 Cup carrot, shredded
3 Cups green papaya, shredded (sub carrots)
Serve, sprinkled with:
2 Tbsp roasted peanuts, chopped (optional)
Mix and match regional ingredients to make the recipe your own – try apples, cucumber, broccoli stalks or celery.
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