Sep 222015

I have some bad news, people. Prepare yourselves. Tomorrow is the first day of fall, which means right now, at 10:14 pm eastern standard time, there is only 1 hours and 46 minutes left of summer. So I’m going to spend those precious moments remembering one of the best parts of my summer–an amazing cooking class in Thailand on my honeymoon. Not only did I learn how to make this delicious green papaya salad (som tum), but I got to see my culinarily challenged husband cook for the first (and likely last) time ever. You think I’m exaggerating. I am not.
Papaya is one of the fruits I don’t eat very often (except when I’m on my honeymoon in Thailand, of course) but I was excited to see it available in this little local asian market I like to call Trader Joe’s. Although it’s also delicious fully ripe, I for this recipe you want an underripe fruit to use in this savory dish. If you’ve never had papaya salad you should try it stat–it has that beautiful mix of salty, spicy, and a tad sweet, that makes Thai food so freaking good. Be warned, if you aren’t into spicy food, you may want to cut back on the garlic and red chiles. Or just man up.
Nutrition Highlights: Papaya is packed with vitamin C, folate, fiber, carotenoids (vitamin A) and tons of other nutritional goodies. One cup of shredded green papaya only has 55 calories and 7 grams of sugar, but is very filling from all the fiber. The salad also has green beans, tomatoes, and peanuts, which make this a hearty meal or side.
And before I give you the recipe, here is photographic evidence proving both that Jeff has cooked exactly 1 time in his life, and that I still look ridiculous in a chef’s hat.
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Spicy Thai Green Papaya Salad (Som Tum)
Makes about 4 servings as a side
adapated from Baan Hongnual Cookery School in Chiang Mai (go there!!!)
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What’s in it:
1 large green papaya, peeled and shredded*
2 cloves garlic
3 small fresh or dried red chilies (less if you are spice-averse)
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup green beans cut into 1 inch long pieces
2 Tbsp fish sauce
2 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp sugar (technically palm sugar should be used but I didn’t have that)
2 Tbsp roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
1 Tbsp dried shrimp (authenic versions use it but I omitted it since I didn’t want to buy it and I think you get that hint of fish flavor from the fish sauce).
Thai basil or cilantro for garnish

How to make it:
1. Using a mortar and pestle pound the garlic and chilies until well crushed. Alternately, finely mince.
2. Add fish sauce, lime juice and sugar and mix well.
3. Add green beans, green papaya, roasted peanuts, tomatoes (and dried shrimp if using) and toss well in the sauce. Enjoy!

*Papaya is ripe when the skin starts to turn from green to yellow. For this recipe, we WANT the unripe fruit, so choose a green firm fruit. You can shred it using a grater, spiralizer, or can slice into thin matchsticks instead.