Monday, April 12, 2010

Thai food - salad

To complete our meal at Four Seasons Thai Cooking School in Chiang Mai, Chef Pitak presented us with the recipe for Som Tam, Green Papaya Salad, which quickly became one of my favorite Thai foods. I tried it from one end of Thailand to the other, but I think this is the best.

We all got into mashing ingredients in the huge wooden mortar with the equally large pestle, perhaps a sign that travel and food writers/photographers suffer from unresolved aggression.

Som Tam, Green Papaya Salad
Serves one

2 pcs Bird's Eye Chili (prig kee noo; Chef said other Thai chilies can be substituted)
2 pcs. garlic
2 pcs Thai long green beans, cut in one-inch-long segments (tua fak yao, if you don't have access to an Asian market, look for acote at a Mexican market)
1 TBS dried shrimp (goong heng)
1 TBS cashew nuts
2 TBS fish sauce (narm pla)
1 TBs palm sugar (narm tan peep, white sugar's okay to use)
1 TBS lime juice
1 TBS tamarind juice (narm makorm, if you can't find it, double the lime juice)
1 1/2 cup green papaya, julienned (mara kor, it must be firm; Chef says Japanese cucumber or carrots can be substituted)
3 cherry tomatoes, cut into halves

green beans
white cabbage
sweet basil leaves (bai horapa)

Now comes the fun part.
1. Slightly crush the bird's eye chili in a mortar and pestle. Add the green beans, dried shrimps and cashew nuts and mash this too.
2. Season with fish sauce, palm sugar, lime and tamarind juice.
3. Add green papaya and cherry tomatoes. Mashing and mixing well.
4. Finished salad should have a sour, salty and sweet taste.
5. Garnish and serve.

There's no place for Chef's large mortar and pestle in your average-sized condo so I'm looking forward to seeing just how much smushing and mashing my wooden salad bowl can tolerate. It won't be as physically satisfying but I bet the results of this favorite Thai food recipe will taste great anyway.

NOTE: For more about Chiang Mai and the Four Seasons, g to this post on my other blog, Travel on the Level.