*THAI GREEN PAPAYA SALAD*
For the salad:
1/2 green papaya
3 long beans, cut on the bias into 2-inch lengths
2 scallions, white parts only, sliced very thinly
1 bird’s eye or Thai chili, some seeds removed, sliced very thinly
10 cherry tomatoes, halved (optional)
2 Tbsp. salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
For the dressing:
2 Tbsp. Thai fish sauce
2 Tbsp. lime juice
1 Tbsp. palm sugar or golden brown sugar
Cut off a thin slice at one end of the papaya, and stand it upright, cut side down, on a cutting board. Using a thin, sharp knife and following the curve of the papaya, cut away its skin. Cut the papaya in half lengthwise, and scoop out and discard the seeds. Set aside one half of the papaya for later use. Using a julienne peeler, shave the second half into long, thin strips. Put the prepared papaya in a serving bowl. Add the long beans, scallions, chili, and tomatoes, if using, and toss to mix.
In a small bowl, whisk together the fish sauce, lime juice, and sugar. Toss with the papaya mixture to taste. Top with peanuts.
Note: This salad can be assembled and dressed up to 1 hour ahead of time. Chill until ready to serve.
Yield: 4 servings (as a side dish or first course)
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or ground chicken, if you can get decent ground dark-meat chicken, like at a butcher shop or Whole Foods)
1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
2 tablespoons sliced scallions
2 tablespoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons lime juice from 1 to 2 limes
1 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
2 to 3 tablespoons toasted rice powder (see recipe below)
1. If you’re using chicken thighs, place them in a food processor and pulse them until well ground but not quite paste, about ten one-second pulses.
2. Heat a skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the ground chicken, shallots, scallions, red pepper flakes, fish sauce, and lime juice. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through.
3. Turn the larb out into a bowl and cool for at least ten minutes. Stir in rice powder and additional lime juice to taste. Serve with cabbage leaves for wrapping.
Yield: 3 to 4 servings
*TOASTED RICE POWDER*
Makes about 3 tablespoons
Place a dry skillet (not nonstick) over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup Thai white sticky rice (preferred) or jasmine rice. Toast the rice, stirring and shaking the pan occasionally, until the rice is golden-brown and smoking slightly, 10 to 15 minutes. Cool to room temperature and grind to a very fine powder in a spice grinder or coffee grinder (you can also use a heavy-duty mortar and pestle).