February 17, 2012

Green Papaya Salad

City living has introduced me to so many new cuisines.  One of my new favorite comfort foods is Thai food, with it's impossibly delicious balance of salty, sweet, sour, and spicy.  There is a hole in the wall place near my old apartment that I fell in love with.  Green curry with jasmine rice, crispy soft shelled crab, tom kha gai soup, and my favorite side dish green papaya salad.  Green papaya is just unripened papaya, the perfect vehicle for the spicy dressing of the salad.  I haven't been able to find the unripened fruit anywhere in DC, so I was ecstatic to bring some home from Baltimore.

The papaya should be peeled, seed, and shredded before using.  I prepared the papaya, carrots, and cucumber with the shredding blade of my food processor, but the large holes of a cheese grater would work fine in a pinch.  The shredded vegetables are combined with blanched green beans and sweet cherry tomatoes then dressed with a spicy tart balanced sauce.  It's best to let the salad soak in the dressing for a few hours before serving to allow the flavors to really pack a punch.

Green Papaya Salad
1 green papaya (peeled, seeded, shredded)
1 cucumber (peeled, seeded, shredded)
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 package green beans
1 tbsp spring onions
large handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup roasted peanuts

2 cloves of garlic, diced
2 limes, zest and juice
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp light agave nectar
1.5 tbsp sriracha sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp smooth peanut butter
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp corriander
1/4 tsp cumin
salt and pepper

Prepare the papaya, cucumber, and carrots in the food processor.   Blanch the green beans in boiling water for about 1-2 minutes, immediately shock in ice water, and pat dry.

Combine the ingredients for the dressing.  You may need to heat up the peanut butter to thoroughly combine.  Taste the dressing as you go along and make sure it is to your taste.  Not hot enough?  More sriracha.  Not sweet enough?  A little more agave syrup.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Dress the salad.  Let sit for at least an hour before serving, adding shrimp to make it a full meal.  Enjoy!

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