After taking a weekend off cooking, I went to see my mum in Germany where restaurants have reopened (more on this trip coming soon, including how they have successfully implemented the new normal over there), I was a little bit excited to get back into the kitchen, especially with weather in London right now that doesn't exactly lend itself to socially distanced picnics.
So after a bit of online research I decided to rustle up a bit of a Thai feast yesterday! I have always adored anything from my favourite Thai restaurant in London Rosa's (I have made their Pad Thai before at home and it was DELICIOUS) but I particularly love their super fragrant and fresh papaya salad, so of course had to try and make it at home!
You will need a few bits from your Asian supermarket like the dried shrimp and fish sauce and of course the green papaya at the heart of this dish, trust me it is nothing like a normal papaya.
BUT you can substitute if that is not possible. Leave out the dried shrimp (also if you are a veggie) and use sliced green apple or daikon instead of the green papaya and the result will still be super tasty! The original recipe calls for a pestle and mortar but I had a great time bashing all the flavours out of the ingredients using a big saucepan and rolling pin so get creative!
For mains I fancied including watermelon in some way, that most refreshing fruit I associate with so many summer days of the past. I know, its sounds a little odd to include in a savoury main but trust me on this one! Why? Because the watermelon chunks, tossed in an amazing dressing of crunchy peanut butter, stem ginger, siracha, soy sauce and rice vinegar, served with rice noodles, a mix of fresh herbs and roasted peanut works SO WELL - fresh, vibrant and a real treat for your palette, plus super quick and easy to rustle up!
Enjoy these dishes and let me know how your Thai feast goes!
ROSA'S PAPAYA SALAD (SOM TA)
Serves 2 as starter
- 2 tablespoons roasted peanuts
- 1-10 red bird’s eye chillies (depending on how brave you are), sliced
- 5 small (or 2–3 large) garlic cloves
- 1 1⁄2 tablespoons sugar
- 8-10 green beans, chopped into 4cm pieces
- 4 cherry tomatoes, sliced
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
- 1⁄2 medium green papaya, peeled and cut into matchstick thick pieces
- 1 carrot, cut into matchstick thick pieces
- 2 tablespoons dried shrimp (leave out for a vegetarian alternative)
- Coarsely pound the chillies and garlic together using a pestle and mortar (or a saucepan and rolling pin).
- Add the sugar and pound.
- Add the dried shrimp and peanuts and pound.
- Add the beans and tomatoes. Lightly pound to combine, then squeeze in the lime juice and fish sauce.
- Lightly pound again, then add the green papaya and carrot.
- Pound again and toss to combine.
- The taste should be sweet and salty in perfect balance, with a sharp, sour and spicy tang.
- Spoon the salad into a serving bowl and sprinkle over some more toasted peanuts and enjoy!
RICE NOODLES IN A PEANUT DRESSING WITH WATERMELON AND FRESH HERBS
- 250g dried flat rice noodles
- ½ cucumber, halved lengthways, deseeded then sliced
- 2 spring onions, thinly sliced
- 4 tbsp, roasted peanuts roughly chopped
- 200g watermelon flesh, sliced
- A handful of mint leaves, large ones torn
- A handful of coriander, leaves and stalks roughly chopped
- A handful of Thai basil
- 3 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
- 4 tsp light soy sauce
- 1 ½ tsp rice vinegar
- 2 stem ginger balls, finely diced, plus 2 tsp of syrup from the jar
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1 tsp sriracha sauce
- Put the dressing ingredients into a small jug and whisk with 2-3 tbsp of just-boiled water until a smooth, runny dressing forms.
- Bring a pan of water to the boil, then take off the heat and add the noodles.
- Check after 3-4 minutes – the noodles should be softened but still have a little bite.
- Drain well.
- Tip the noodles into a big mixing bowl.
- Add the cucumber, spring onions and most of the peanuts.
- Drizzle over the dressing with some seasoning and toss until the noodles are coated.
- Tip in the watermelon and gently toss a few more times.
- Tip onto a platter or into serving bowls.
- Scatter over the herbs and the remaining nuts.
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