The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

Kids Make Green Papaya Salad

March 24th, 2013 · No Comments · Posted in Ethnic, kids, Recipes

Put a Thai kick in your coleslaw

When somebody says “papaya” you probably think of something orange in the last tropical fruit salad you ate. But in Thailand, they like to pick the papaya when it’s still green and either cook it or turn it into a spicy salad that for all the world could be the Southeast Asian version of coleslaw.

Green papaya salad, as it is known, is incredibly refreshing as a course or a side dish, with cool shreds of papaya balanced against spicy green pepper, sweet palm sugar and musky dried shrimp. As you may have gathered already, there are no substitutes for these ingredients. So you’ll just have to find a Thai grocery or make a trip to your nearest Asian supermarket. For the kids in our food appreciation classes, the fun is all in grating the papaya and pounding the other ingredients in a big mortar and pestle.

You can’t miss green papaya in the store. It looks like a big, green squash, or maybe a St. Patrick’s version of eggplant. Start by cutting it in half and scraping out the seeds, which look like little balls of Styrofoam. Peel the papaya and then grate it on the large holes of a standard box grater. Place the grated papaya in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Pound and bruise salad ingredients

In a large mortar and pestle (we used our molcajete from Mexico), grind 2 cloves garlic, then add a generous handful of raw green beans, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch lengths, 2 green Thai chilies, chopped fine, and 2 tablespoons dried shrimp. Pound and bruise the beans, chilies and shrimp, then add a handful of cherry tomatoes, halved, and squish those as well. Scrape the vegetables into the papaya.

In the mortar, pour 3 tablespoons fish sauce and the juice from 1 lime. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons palm sugar (or regular table sugar) and stir with a rubber spatula until the sugar is completely dissolved, scraping the bottom and sides of the mortar to incorporate any bits and juices from the vegetables and shrimp you pounded before. Pour the mix over the papaya and stir well with the spatula.

There's nothing dainty about green papaya

Many recipes call for adding chopped peanuts at this point but we do not use peanuts in our classes because of allergy issues. Instead, we chopped a handful of roasted and salted cashews. I think I like the cashews even better.

This should make enough salad for at least 4 portions. Bring it to the table on a serving platter, garnished with a finely cut chiffonade of Thai basil.

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