Foodie Friday / Som Tam

One thing that was rather lacking from our diet in America was plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. By the time we came home I felt in great need of regular daily amounts of some good healthy food, and this meal I'm going to share with you perfectly matched what my tastebuds were looking for...except that I added just a little too much fresh chilli. 

Our delicious meals at Pato Thai in Flagstaff inspired us, and so on our weekly shop this week we bought a papaya. When using papaya in salads it's ideal if they are a little bit hard / unripe. Ours was just a touch too soft when I came to use it, which meant it was tricky to grate, but the flavour still worked as part of the salad. I based this meal on a recipe for Som Tam that I found hereIn all honesty, I was a little bit grossed out by the inside of the papaya - lots of squishy seeds and flesh, but I can think of plenty more revolting foods, so I'll just be thankful that I didn't need to eat the seeds.

Som Tam
ingredients (serves 2 hungry people as a main meal)

1/2 large papaya
handful of sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds
1 to 2 tomatoes, cut into thin wedges or long strips
1/2 white onion, diced
1/2 cup fresh basil, leaves left whole or chopped
handful of fresh coriander
1 red chili, sliced, seeds removed (reduce or omit, to taste)
1 cup blanched green beans

2 tbsp soy sauce or 1 tsp worcestershire sauce mixed with 1 tsp water
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. fish sauce or soy sauce for vegetarians
3 Tbsp. lime juice
1/2 Tbsp. liquid honey, to taste
1/8 to 1/4 tsp. chili flakes or cayenne pepper, to taste

1) In a small bowl, mix together all ingredients for dressing and set aside until needed.
2)Use a sharp knife to peel the green papaya, then slice it in half and use a spoon to scrape out the seeds. 
3) Using a coarse grater, grate the papaya, or use a potato peeler to create thin, ribbon-like strips. Place in a large bowl.
4) Add sliced tomato, spring onion, chili/cayenne,  green beans and most of the basil. Pour over the dressing, tossing well to combine.
5) Add nuts and toss again. Taste-test the salad. If not sweet enough, add a little more honey. If it's too sweet or salty, add more lime juice. Add more chili to taste, depending on your tolerance level!
6) Top with remaining basil leaves plus fresh coriander and a sprinkling of more nuts.