The magic of green (and by green I mean unripe) papaya is that it absorbs surrounding flavors beautifully.
1-1/2 cups (453 g) julienned green papaya, soaked in ice water for 15 minutes until they are firmer
2 cloves garlic
Thai chilies, to taste
1-1/2 T palm sugar, finely chopped, packed
2-3 long beans, cut into 2-inch pieces
3 T roasted peanuts*
1 heaping T small dried shrimp, roughly chopped if you have large ones
2 T fresh lime juice
2 tsp tamarind juice
1-1/2 T fish sauce
1/2 cup grape tomato halves or a small tomato cut into wedges
*Buy raw peanuts and roast them in a 350°F oven for 15-18 minutes until they’re golden, stirring them half way through for even roasting. Keep leftover roasted peanuts in the fridge or freezer to keep them fresher longer.
Drain the soaked papaya well and place in a bowl lined with two layers of paper towel to absorb excess water. You want to have as little water on the papaya as possible so as to not dilute the dressing.
In a large mortar and pestle (or if you don’t have one, see note below), pound garlic and chilies until there are no more big chunks (pieces of chili skin are fine).
Add palm sugar and mash with the pestle until it turns into a wet paste and all the chunks are dissolved.
Add long beans and pound just until they’re broken.
Add dried shrimp and peanuts and pound to break the peanuts up slightly.
Add fish sauce, tamarind juice, and lime juice, adding the squeezed lime skin into the mortar well for extra lime fragrance. Stir with a large spoon to mix and dissolve the sugar.
Add shredded papaya and tomatoes, and mix using the pound-and-flip method. Once everything looks well mixed and the tomatoes are just slightly crushed, it’s done!
Plate and sprinkle with the remaining peanuts.
If you don’t have a mortar and pestle:
Finely mince or grate the garlic and finely mince the chilies (if using) and add them to a mixing bowl.
Put finely chopped palm sugar in a small bowl and drizzle a little hot water on it and mash it into a paste with a fork.
Add fish sauce, lime juice and tamarind and stir until the sugar is dissolved and add to the garlic and chilies. Stir everything around to infuse the garlic and chilies into the dressing.
Roughly chop half the peanuts and add to the mixing bowl.
Bruise the long beans until broken using anything heavy you can find in the kitchen (a bottle, a can, rolling pin) then add to the mixing bowl.
Add tomatoes and press on them to bruise and release the juice slightly.
Add papaya and toss to mix.
Plate and garnish with the remaining peanuts.
Recipe by Pailin Chongchitnant, hotthaikitchen.com