Happy National Papaya Month!

June 19, 2012 3:52 PM EDT | By Staff Writer
Green Papaya Salad
Happy National Papaya Month! (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Who doesn't love papayas? One quick bite, and you're transported back to summertime, any time of the year. If it happens to be summer where you are and when you're reading this, lucky you. You get to buy the stuff when it's at its best.

We're kicking the month off with a great recipe for Thai Green Papaya Salad.

1. Get fresh herbs and spices.

A handful of chopped fresh cilantro and a handful of chopped fresh mint will carry this dish into exquisite territory. A single Thai bird chile, thinly sliced, lends the dish all the heat it needs, which is quite a bit.

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If you live near an Asian market, pick up Kaffir lime leaves. They keep in your freezer, so if it's a schlep for you, buy as many as you can. If it isn't a handful will suffice. If you can't find Kaffir lime leaves, make sure you have 5 tablespoons of fresh lime juice on hand. If you do, use 2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice instead.

2. Choose and cook your protein.

Use a sea protein, like shrimp. It works perfectly in the dish. Throw some squid in if you can find some. If you want another protein in there, white meat chicken also works great in this dish.

Pre-cook your protein prior to this dish, but wait till it cools off before combining. A little heat is nice, but an ice cold salad is my preferred way of scarfing this down.

3. Choose your papaya.

This dish calls for green papaya, so choose any one you see at the market.

4. Assemble your salad.

Grate your green papaya or use a julienne peeler. Add it to a bowl along with the fresh herbs, thai chile, lime juice, three tablespoons of fish sauce, 5 cloves of minced garlic, a tablespoon of chopped salted peanuts, and two scallions. Add sugar, to taste.

Serve as either a starter or in a larger portion as a main course. Enjoy!


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