By Contributing Editor and Photographer, Holland Koehler
Throughout my time spent in Thailand, my palate experienced flavors and sensations I could have never imagined. Stopping by local street vendors on my way to explore temples and meander through markets were some of the highlights of traveling this amazing country.
From plates of pad Thai and fried rice to bowls of kao sok and green and yellow curry, I ate my way around Thailand. Surprisingly, the last dish I decided to try was the ever popular papaya salad that amazed with it’s simplicity and explosion of flavors. The green papaya was tender yet crunchy and was the perfect backdrop for the spices and sauces that left me addicted to Thai food forever.
This recipe for papaya salad is adapted from one that I learned in a cooking class in Chiang Mai. Some of the ingredients are hard to come by in the US like green papaya, however it may be found in markets in the Chinatown area of most major cities. However, for this recipe, I took inspiration from the traditional Thai dish but used cucumber instead of green papaya to use local ingredients that are in season and available to us here on the North Fork.
1 scallion, green and white parts
2 tsp of sesame oil
1/2 cup garden cilantro
1/4 cup garden basil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp of soy sauce
1/4 cup coconut milk
pinch of raw sugar
sriracha, to taste
zest & juice of 1 lime
Pulse in a food processor until combined but not pureed.
3 cups julienned or spiralized cucumber (or white cabbage or turnip when in season)
1/2 cup green beans cut into 1″ pieces
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 scallion chopped
red pepper flakes to taste
roasted, chopped peanuts for garnish
Toss the salad with the dressing. Top with roasted, chopped peanuts and serve with lime wedges and bean sprouts.