Once I finished photography school I travelled to the Far East for the first time. My first stop was Thailand. It’s hard to even articulate my experiences in the culinary realm, but it was definitely a sense awakening experience, both positive and negative. In Thailand, street food is of abundance, and simply walking down the streets provides a sensory encounter filled with smells, some amazing, and others difficult for my Israeli nose to handle.
My first visit to Thailand left me with mixed feelings and a mouth on fire (previously unexposed to spicy foods). On my second trip to Thailand I arrived from India with a passion for Thai food. The Thai kitchen has a way of creating dishes with loads of flavor on one hand, but which also give respect to the ingredients themselves. To make a long story short, Thai food is now by far my favorite cuisine. Sweet, sour, spicy and savory is my motto!
For insperation i decided to visit Neve Sha’anan neighborhood, adjacent to Tel Aviv’s central bus stationthis stroling through the street was a very unique experience. There I found smells that brought me back to the streets of Thailand, and a scene of food stalls displaying foods I had never seen and again didn’t have enough guts to try. There were a plethora of Asian vegetables that immediately inspired me to create a list of recipes I want to try. This is still no Chinatown but it’s the closest thing we have to it, here in Israel.
I can’t write a post on Thai food, without mentioning the only Thai restaurant (that I know of) that makes authentic Thai food in Israel. The Thai House (Beit Ha-Tailandi) makes Pad Thai without carrots (a rarity in Israel) and the best Som Tam (papaya salad) around. Every time I dine there, I start the meal with the Som Tam and sticky rice, and so I decided to share my version of the recipe here.
Green papaya is now available, so don’t skip out on this crucial ingredient, the ripe papaya is sweet and does not work in this recpie. If you can handle spice, increase the amount of chili according to taste.
This recipe comes to you straight from my recipe book I received from my cooking course in Chang Mai. Enjoy, Danya.
Ingredients for 4-6 servings:
For the salad:
1 medium green papaya, julienned (about 3 cups)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup Chinese long beans, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons crushed peanuts
For the sauce:
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon palm sugar (or white sugar)
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons fish sauce, known as nam pla
¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
1. In a large bowl, mix together all in the ingredients for the salad.
2. In a separate bowl, mix together all of the sauce ingredients.
3. Pour the sauce over the salad ingredients are mix, using your hands, until the papaya begins to soften. Taste and season accordingly. Serve cold.
– If you have a julienne peeler- now is the time to use it.
– I love to eat this dish with Thai sticky rice- it may sound weird but it goes really well together. You can use plain white rice for a similar effect.