Any visitor to Thailand will have come across this fantastic, fresh, hot and spicy dish made from green (unripe) papayas. It's hard to replicate the exact flavours here but this combination comes quite close. Always use very unripe papaya, never the ripe orange kind.
1 large green papaya, peeled, deseeded (or, if unavailable, 1 unripe mango, stone removed, or 1 very firm cucumber, deseeded)
5 garlic cloves
3 red chilies, finely chopped (or to taste)
Large pinch of salt
1 tsp dried shrimp or shrimp paste
1 tbsp fish sauce
Juice of 2 limes
1 tbsp sugar
4 cherry tomatoes, cut into very small segments
3 heaped tbsp beansprouts
4 tbsp crushed peanuts
Step 1: Shred the papaya (or mango or cucumber) into long, thin matchsticks.
Step 2: Using a pestle and mortar, crush the garlic, chilies and salt. Add a small handful of the papaya and the dried shrimp or shrimp paste and gently pound until some of the juices are released.
Step 3: Transfer to a bowl and stir in the rest of the ingredients, reserving some of the peanuts to sprinkle on top before serving.
Tip: The raw freshness of this dish not only gives a beautiful crunchy texture and delicious flavours but also makes it very nutritious. Surprisingly filling and very easy to prepare, it makes a great light lunch alternative to your average sandwich.
See more recipes from Natasha Edwards.
Reprinted with permission from Natasha Edwards' Garlic: The Mighty Bulb (2012 Firefly Books).