I go to London regularly, mostly for work occiasionally for pure frivolity, other times to see my osteopath.
Whatever the reasons for my visits I like to try and pop back to old haunts – favourite cafes, quick cut-throughs and the odd shop. It gives me an opportunity to pick up bits that are much more difficult to find here on the coast. So I go to a favourite coffee shop and buy their monthly special, I may pop into an Italian deli but I always seem to pay a visit to some of the grocery shops in China Town.
I might pick up firm tofu for frying, sheets of wonton wrappers, jars of sauces and spices, but it is their fresh produce sections that has me searching out favourites and looking for what is at it’s best - fresh curry leaves, highly pungent and aromatic (the leaves are picked off once at home and are frozen for later use), bags of oriental greens and beans for times when the slugs and snails are doing their best to demolish my gardening efforts. And occasionally I’ll wander in and something will grab my attention – yes a green papaya.
Green Papaya Salad
Green Papaya salad is a quintessential Thai salad – hot and sour, sweet and crunchy. Perfect as a starter, on it’s own, a light lunch, you name it.
What I’ve done here is combined recipes from three of my favourite cooks – Mai Kaidee, Rick Stein and David Thompson. Mai’s version is vegetarian so doesn’t use the fish sauce, she uses soy or seasoning sauce instead – you choose.
From a whole green papaya I made two batches of this salad – the papaya kept well in the fridge wrapped in some cling film or if you are Australian Glad Wrap – I love that name!
- Peel and halve a green papaya, and then scoop out and discard the seeds.
- Slice / grate a green papaya. If you have a mandolin then now’s the time to use it
- Put it in a pestle and mortar and bash it gently
- Now add –
- 1 tsp each of chopped chilli and garlic
- 1 tbsp of roasted cashew nuts or peanuts, roughly chopped
- 4 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 tsp of sugar (palm if you have it)
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1 tbsp fish sauce or soy/seasoning sauce
- 1 tbsp Tamarind water or 1 small tsp of paste
- About 6 green beans, halved lengthways
- Mix and bash it all again, check the taste and serve
What to do if you don’t have green papaya?
I’ve been trying to find alternatives to green papaya – I’ve used white cabbage which is good, but different, also the same with carrot. I’d like to try using white turnip as that seems to come up as an alternative – but as I’ve only just sown the seeds it will be a while before I get to taste it! Do you have any suggestions or alternatives, I’d love to hear them as I do love this salad but can’t always get green papaya.