I absolutely adore Thai green papaya salad, or Som Tam. I always order it when I see it on a restaurant menu. In fact, I have actually dined at certain restaurants solely because I’d heard that their green papaya salad was amazing. My favorite Asian market sometimes carries their own homemade version of it, and it is really something special. Sadly, I haven’t seen it there in quite a while.
The best way I can think of to describe green papaya salad is as a crunchy, sweet and salty take on Western coleslaw. It’s a lively party of many textures and flavors, like garlic, chili, lime and fish sauce, and it is just plain delicious. The main ingredient of traditional Som Tam is of course, shredded “green” papaya, which is basically the flesh of the raw, unripened fruit. While I can easily find ripe, yellow papayas in my local markets, the unripe ones are more elusive. And, when I have a craving for green papaya salad, that just won’t do!
When I made my Asian Wedding Soup, aka faux pho, a few weeks ago, I desperately wanted a bowl of green papaya salad to serve alongside it. But, I also didn’t want to go crazy looking for all of the ingredients I would need. So, I put on my food ninja thinking cap, and tried to figure out a way to achieve the “personality” of the dish with what was readily available to me. Sometimes, you just have to think outside the box. What I came up with was a creative and very tasty (if I do say so myself) take on this Thai classic. Instead of green papaya as the base for my salad, I used….. read more >>