Closely following the cornerstones of Thai cookery (Spicy, Sweet, Sour and Salty) I made some delicious Som Tam as part of my Thai feast for a family get-together.
I have only found ripened papaya in the supermarkets here and the dish in Thailand usually calls for unripe papaya to give that delicious crunch. So instead I pile a spoonful of the salad mixture onto a baby gem lettuce leaf which adds the necessary crunch, provides some cooling respite from the chilli and acts as the perfect spoon for popping the deliciousness into your mouth.
I heartily recommend this dish as an interesting accompaniment to a meal, it adds some real interest to the feast!
5 Green Beans halved lengthways
4 Cherry Tomatoes halved
1 clove of Garlic finely chopped
1 Red Bird’s Eye Chilli finely chopped (or a regular chilli if you wish it to be milder, and if really desperate for supplies use dried chilli flakes)
1 tsp Sugar (prefarably palm sugar but golden is fine)
Handful of Roasted Peanuts
1 tbsp Fish Sauce (Nam Pla)
1 tbsp of Tamarind Water (or 1 tsp of tamarind paste)
1 Lime, juiced
1 Baby Gem Lettuce
1. Peel and shred the Papaya, discarding the core and seeds. Set aside.
2. Put garlic, red chilli and green beans into a pestle and mortar and pound until lightly bruised.
3. Add the sugar, peanuts, fish sauce, tamarind, tomatoes and lime juice and pound further until soften and well mixed.
4. Add the shredded papaya turning well with mixture and pounding once last time.
5. Taste to check the seasoning and adjust as appropriate (remember the cornerstones of Thai cooking!)
6. Spoon complete mixture onto a single baby gem lettuce leaf and serve immediately.