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      RECIPE TITLE "Som Tumm Ma-Rah Gor (Spicy Green Papaya Salad)"
    from Cracking the Coconut Copyright © 2000 by Su-Mei Yu

    yields Makes 1 servings time--- difficulty easy


    2 tablespoons fish sauce (namm pla)
    1 tablespoon palm sugar or light brown sugar
    1 clove garlic, minced
    5 to 6 fresh bird chiles or 3 to 4 serrano chiles
    3 ounces green Mexican papaya, peeled, seeded, and shredded, or 2 medium tart Granny Smith apples, peeled, seeded, shredded, and soaked in water with fresh lemon or lime juice, to yield 1 1/2 cups
    1 green bean, sliced in thin slivers on the diagonal (optional)
    3 cherry tomatoes, quartered
    1/2 tart green plum, sliced into thin ribbons, or 4 to 5 thin matchsticks fresh pineapple
    1 salt-packed anchovy-fillet, washed and patted dry
    1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
    9 to 10 unsalted peanuts, dry-roasted and slightly pounded

    For the garnishes and accompaniments:
    4 to 5 green beans, parboiled for 1 minute in salted water
    One 1-inch cabbage wedge
    8 to 10 arugula leaves

    Patpong Road, Bangkok's red-light district, is one of the best places in Thailand to get Spicy Green Papaya Salad. This is because many of the women working in the bars and brothels are from Northeast Thailand, where the dish is a regional classic. In Bangkok, stands belonging to food vendors are set up like salad bars, with an array of seasonings from which customers may choose. The original northeastern Thai name for this salad is tumm som, literally "pounded spicy." It calls for seasonal vegetables pounded with seasonings, including lime and tamarind juice, fermented fish, fresh or dried chiles, garlic cloves for the aroma, and baby eggplant for musty-bitter flavor and texture. Green papaya is the latest addition.

    The fruit was first introduced to the Thais in the seventeenth century, when it was brought over from the Americas through the Philippines. Today, every Thai city has its own recipe. This is a salad made to accommodate an individual's preference. The recipe is written for a single serving of the classic formula, which should be used as a guide for your own version. Taste and alter the seasonings to your liking. The salad should taste spicy, salty, sour, and sweet -- in that order. To make the salad for more than one, increase the amount of each ingredient per number of guests. Experiment with other vegetables and fruits with slightly sweet flavors and crunchy textures, such as green beans, cucumber, cabbage, or pineapple instead of green papaya.

    The green papaya to use for this recipe is the Mexican papaya, which is three to four times larger than the Hawaiian papaya commonly available in supermarkets. One medium Mexican papaya is enough for 6 to 8 servings. Green Mexican papayas are available in Asian markets.

    Like the green papaya salad vendors, you can have everything prepared for last-minute assembly. They simply pound the ingredients together and serve. Papaya shredded by hand is best because the texture is perfect for pounding. If you have a food processor, you can use the shredder disk and force chunks through the food tube. A box grater isn't a good alternative, as it tends to bruise the papaya flesh, turning it soggy. If substituting apples for the green papaya, be sure to soak them in lime- or lemon-infused water to prevent browning.

    In a small saucepan, combine the fish sauce and palm sugar and cook over high heat until the sugar dissolves, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a small bowl and cool.

    In a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic and chile together; the chiles should be bruised but still whole. Add the shredded green papaya and mix with a spoon, pounding slightly. Add the green bean, if desired, and mix with the spoon, again pounding lightly. Add the cherry tomatoes and plum and mix and gently pound until slightly bruised. Push the salad to one side of the mortar and in the center of the mortar, crush the anchovy into a paste. Add the fish sauce mixture, anchovy, and lime juice and pound gently to incorporate into the mixture. Taste for balance: the paste should be spicy, sour, salty, and sweet, in that order. Add the peanuts and pound lightly. Mix well with the spoon.

    Transfer to a plate and garnish with the green beans, cabbage, and arugula.

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