The Best Thai Fish Cakes …… just keep on going

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Here’s another favourite dish of mine, a recipe that I often make at home and am invariably asked for the recipe. I can’t lay claim to the original recipe but I have adapted it over the years. My latest version has … Continue reading

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Green Papaya Salad

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.

Simple Satay Sauce – without peanut butter

Yup you read that right. It’s not that I have anything against peanut butter – each to their own I say. I rarely eat it these days, but will confess that I’m partial to peanut butter on toast with a bit of Marmite on top. What you haven’t tried this classic combo? No?! My friends you haven’t lived!

You can make a proper peanut-satay sauce without using peanut butter. How? Use raw peanuts instead. It really is that simple.

This was one of the quick fire recipes we picked up the last time we visited Bangkok, all too long ago now, from the gorgeous May Kaidee.  She used it as a dip for vegetarian spring rolls (the uncooked type), and who am I to disagree with that great pairing. But you could use it for any type of satay you fancy.

A word about the peanuts – use raw peanuts and gently roast them either in the oven on a tray or in a heavy bottomed frying pan. Don’t use oil it’s not necessary, you just need to keep them moving in the pan, or if in the oven a couple of shuffles around so the whole peanut takes on a golden colour and doesn’t burn.

If you want a chunky type of sauce roughly chop the peanuts, for a smoother sauce grind them in an electric grinder or bash them in a pestle and mortar. I prefer some substance to mine so they are left a bit chunky. For a thinner, runnier sauce add more water or coconut milk.

Simple Peanut Satay Sauce – Mai Kaidee

  • 1 tbls spoon of vegetable oil in a wok
  • 3 tomatoes roughly chopped
  • A tsp of chilli paste or a red chilli finely chopped
  • 3 to 4 tbls of coconut milk
  • 3 – 4 tbls of water
  • Approx 150g ground (chopped) roasted peanuts
  • 2 tsp sugar (palm if you have it)
  • 1 tbls soy sauce or seasoning sauce
  • 1 tbls lime juice

Method ~

  • Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan
  • Add the tomatoes and give them a stir
  • Now add the chilli paste, the coconut milk, water, peanuts, sugar, soy sauce and lime juice.
  • Cook these on a gentle heat and stir so it doesn’t stick. The sauce should start to thicken, if you need to add a bit more coconut milk and water do so a bit at a time.
  • It should take about 15 minutes to cook and the sauce should be nice and thick, but if you want a runnier sauce add more water/coconut milk.
  • Check for seasonings and leave to cool.

The Spring Rolls are a perfect summer appetiser or lunch. Light and tasty, full of goodies and surprisingly filling. Oh and the fact that the Rice Papers were several years out of date had zero impact, I’m not talking last century out of date, just a couple of years :) Shows you how long it is since we made these beauties. But what reminded to make them was the most stunning photos on Chez Chloe’s blog – outrageously delicious looking Prawn Spring Rolls – go on over and drool. And now I’m reminded, I’m hooked again.

Vegetarian Spring Rolls ~

  • Spring Roll Pastry / Rice Papers
  • Sesame seeds roasted
  • Chopped lettuce leaves
  • Any combination of raw vegetables finely sliced - Carrot, Bean Sprouts, Green Beans, Radishes, Courgettes
  • Optional – cooked noodles
  • Optional – some chopped mint, coriander or chives

Method ~

  • Place a spring roll sheet (that has been soaked in hot water and then left to dry on a damp tea towel for a few minutes) on a plate
  • Scatter some roasted sesame seeds
  • Now place some lettuce, carrots, bean sprouts and whatever else you fancy towards one end. You don’t need much just a few pinches of each vegetable and a scatter of some herbs.
  • Roll the Spring Roll Paper over once and then fold or tuck in the sides. this is when you work out whether or not you have over-filled your Roll, if you have take some of the stuffing out and start rolling again.
  • It’s a little fiddly, not majorly so, just a bit.

To eat, serve on a plate with some of the peanut-satay sauce. Munch and Crunch!

And the photos? You are looking at the future contents of Vegetarian Spring Rolls – lettuce, cucumbers and beans. Hopefully!