After my Duck Off adventure which was preceded by a 10 course Japanese meal, I needed to compensate for my unholy ingestion of food by balancing it with seven days of salads. When we holidayed in Thailand a few years ago, we were told that Thai women turn to this Som Tum salad when they want to lose weight as it's healthy, high fibre and low fat. They use tiny dried crabs which are things that I don't particularly go for (and I had no idea where I would find them). I was also told that the secret to the petite and slender Thai figure is that Thai women infrequently have the coconut laced curries and if they do they eat small portions of it whereas whenever we eat Thai foods, we go straight for the delicious but calorie laden foods.
I was sent some gorgeously sweet and fresh Crystal Bay prawns and I knew that these would be the perfect substitute for those tiny crabs. I'm used to seeing Crystal Bay prawns on restaurant menus - you know when they're something to write home about when they name the origin or brand of an item and they are reportedly used by Tetsuya and Neil Perry.
This salad is pretty much fat free and with a glorious crunch to it which always helps to satisfy late night snacking cravings which is my downfall time. For some it's the 4pm afternoon slump, for me it's the 10pm mad dash for the fridge where I fling open the fridge door in search for something to satisfy the urge to chew on something. This recipe makes a large amount which is not a bad thing by any means and snacking on this late at night is a lot healthier than going for the cake that I always seem to have in my fridge. A Thai may scoff at this version as I've omitted the dried shrimp but alas I didn't have any. I did specify a rather generous amount of prawns but I do love it when you get a lot of prawn in your mouthful of green papaya.
So tell me Dear Reader, when is your "danger time" for snacking?
Green Papaya Salad with Prawns
An Original Recipe by Not Quite Nigella
For the salad:
400grams /14ozs cooked prawns (I used Crystal Bay prawns) peeled
1kg/2 lb green papaya
1/2 cup roasted, salted peanuts
1/2 cup chopped spring onion (green part)
halved cherry tomatoes (optional)
a few Thai basil leaves, shredded
1-2 large red chillis, sliced in rings
2 fat garlic gloves peeled and finely chopped
2 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons fish sauce
Buyer's tip: Green Papaya or Green Mango can be found at Asian Grocery stores. You may sometimes have to ask for it. I bought mine at Thai Kee supermarket in Chinatown. Buy a firm, even coloured green papaya and check the bottom of the papayas and avoid ones with white mold.
Step 1 - Make the salad dressing by mixing all of the dressing ingredients together in a bowl and allow to sit aside to dissolve sugar.
Step 2 - Grate the green papaya-I would recommend using gloves although I don't know if these are strictly necessary. I did find that I got some little bumps on my fingers afterwards. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and add these to the salad along with the chopped spring onions, Thai basil leaves and most of the chopped peanuts (reserving 2 tablespoons to sprinkle over the top).
Step 3 - Toss the salad with the dressing and sprinkle the extra peanuts on top.