David Thompson: Green papaya salad (Som dtam malakor)


  • Serves 2 people

  • 3 garlic cloves
  • Good pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp roasted peanuts, coarsely crushed
  • 2 tbsp dried prawns, rinsed and drained
  • 2 slices or small wedges of lime (optional)
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 snake beans, cut into 1 cm lengths
  • 4-6 bird’s eye chillies (scuds), to taste
  • 2 cups shredded green papaya, from about 1 small papaya
  • 3-4 tbsp shaved palm sugar, to taste
  • 2-3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2-3 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp tamarind water
  • To serve: steamed rice and raw vegetables
01   Using a pestle and mortar, pound the garlic with the salt then add the peanuts and dried prawns and pound to a coarse paste. Add the lime (if using), bruising it with the pestle, then add the cherry tomatoes and beans to the mortar and carefully work everything together. Next add the bird’s eye chillies, barely crushing them. The more they are pounded, the hotter the dish – and how hot you want it is up to you. Add them earlier if you’re after revenge.
02   Finally, add the green papaya and lightly bruise with the pestle, while turning and tossing the mixture with a large spoon held in your other hand. Season the salad with palm sugar, fish sauce, lime juice and tamarind water. It should taste sweet, sour, hot and salty.
03   Place about 1 cup of steamed rice on each plate. Spoon over the green papaya salad and eat with fresh raw vegetables, such as cabbage, green beans and betel leaves.
Note This recipe is from Thai Street Food by David Thompson, published by Penguin Lantern ($100, hbk), and appeared in the November 2009 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller. The specialty ingredients used in these recipes are available from Asian supermarkets and Asian greengrocers. David Thompson's recipes are reproduced here without Gourmet Traveller style changes.





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