Green Papaya Salad & Coconut Rice is the perfect combination of the classic sweet, sour, salty, savory, hot flavors synonymous with Thai cuisine. Creamy, sticky & sweet coconut rice is the perfect accompaniment acting as a cooling element for the crunchy green papaya salad stippled with fiery chilies.
Of course coconut rice also is a must with any Thai recipes. This Thai Basil, Mussel & Shrimp Stir-fry recipe is yet another favorite of mine I always serve with coconut rice. Truth be told, I love coconut rice so much it requires no adornment for me to gobble it greedily.
During the first season of my Canadian cooking show – Simple, Fresh, Delicious, I interviewed a Thai chef who owned a funny little Thai restaurant I used to frequent. This chef & her brother taught me to make coconut rice & shared with me how it’s generally served – with the green papaya salad. Who was I to argue? The idea is the coconut rice helps to cool the fiery chilies in the salad. That aside, it really is a wonderful combination bringing all the Thai cuisine elements together.
Don’t be scared away by the words “fiery chilies”. If heat isn’t your thing, back-off on the chilies. If you love Thai food like I do then don’t let fear & common sense hold you back – just go for it. It’s an excuse to eat more coconut rice.
Green papaya is the underripe fruit of the same name (nothing gets by me). It’s crunchy with a mild flavor. Green papaya salad, or som tam as it’s called in Thailand, is traditionally prepared using a mortar & pestle by pounding the dressing ingredients together then adding the green papaya & lightly pounding that too to ensure the porous strands of the papaya absorb some of the pungent dressing. My mortar & pestle isn’t large enough for this undertaking so I used it for the dressing then tossed the salad together in a large mixing bowl & used the pestle to gently pound papaya. Both methods work.
As with most Thai food this salad is relatively straight forward & easy to prepare but probably requires a trip to an Asian market or a decent grocery store that has a well-stocked Asian aisle. I had everything but the green papaya. Green papaya is quite robust in texture so it won’t become a wilted mess if by chance there’s leftovers. We’ve eaten this a couple of days after it was made & it’s still crunchy. Of course, the best way to serve it is with the fresh, hot rice within an hour or so of making the salad.
I feel I need to add a disclaimer: I’ve never been to Thailand before (it is on my list) but during my career, I’ve been taught to cook Thai food by some skilled Thai chefs. That’s not to say my Thai recipes are authentic. I see all recipes as adaptations. Today Thai food is still my favorite cuisine to eat. And if the Thai cooking classes I used to teach in Canada were any indication, this hedonistic, alluring cuisine is the favorite of many would-be gourmands. Until next time, Lovoni xo
A PINTEREST PIC FOR YOU TO SHARE
- COCONUT RICE
- 2 cups jasmine rice
- 2 x 14 oz (398ml) cans coconut milk
- 1 cup water
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- pinch salt
- GREEN PAPAYA SALAD
- LIME DRESSING
- 2 tablespoons dried shrimp
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 small red chilies, thinly sliced (use less if you don’t like too much heat)
- 1/3 cup grated palm sugar (or packed brown sugar)
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1/3 cup lime juice
- 1/2, 2 lb (907g) green papaya, peeled and coarsely grated (or use a spiralizer)
- 16 grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 carrot peeled and coarsely grated
- 1/3 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
- lettuce leaves, optional
- 1/3 cup toasted peanuts, chopped
- To make the rice: Put rice in a fine mesh strainer. Rinse under cold water until the water runs clear. Bring coconut milk and water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the rice and remaining ingredients; stir to combine. Reduce the heat to very low. Cook covered, for about 25 minutes or until rice is tender and all the liquid is absorbed. Makes about 6 cups.
- To make the salad: While the rice is cooking, place the dried shrimp, garlic & chilies in a mortar & pestle & pound until the mixture resembles somewhat of a paste. Add palm sugar, fish sauce & lime juice. If you don’t have a mortar & pestle, then use a small processor. Combine the dressing with the papaya, tomatoes, carrot & cilantro, turning & mixing to until all ingredients are very well coated in the dressing.
- If you decide to use lettuce, then lay some leaves on a plate. I vary on whether I use lettuce or not. Sprinkle the salad with peanuts. Serve the salad with coconut rice.