This Thai Papaya Salad is made with Swede not Papaya because we can’t get Green Papaya here in Queenstown, but Swede is abundant this time of year. Initially I was skeptical, but from what I’ve read Swede and Green papaya are reasonably similar in taste and texture – we’ll see.
I found this recipe http://www.maangchi.com/recipe/som-tam which looks pretty authentic and uses Swede so maybe there is something to this Swede substitute.
Swede, Rutabaga, Turnip or Neep as it is sometimes known is widely available throughout the world, so if you can’t get Green papaya you should be able to get your hands on a turnip. They are also low in calories, about 38 per 100 grams, which fits this recipe very well as I’m making it for one of our Fast Day/5:2 lunches . I only allow myself 200 calories for lunch on diet days so am always looking for food that provides bulk for little calories.
The other issue that needs to be addressed on these low-calorie days is flavour, sure I could just eat a whole bunch of Swede on its own and it would fill the void, but it wouldn’t be very appetising would it?
My go-to culture for full on delicious flavour is Thai. We had the real deal Som Tam (Papaya Salad) on our last trip to Thailand and it was absolutely the best vegetarian dish I have ever eaten, so I’m hoping this will deliver a flavour not too dissimilar to the Papaya version.
Once you have your Papaya or Swede, the ingredient list is pretty straight forward. I must say this is my second attempt at this salad as I think I missed out on a little flavour the first time. The sugar is crucial, and the linked recipe called for it to be boiled in water first – the result for me was that the sugar solidified and stuck to the side of the pan, and the bit I did manage to get into the salad was not evenly distributed. This time, I simply ground the sugar in the mortar and then added the other ingredients.
Most recipes call for some dried shrimp, which I don’t have on hand, but I’m sure they add an extra depth to the salad, so add about 1 tablespoon of these to the Mortar when you are crushing the garlic and chili if you want a more authentic taste.
Did I mention the recipe below is just over 100 calories per serve if you exclude the peanuts? I haven’t decided if I’ll add a side of Prawns to bring this into the 200 calorie category, or save the 100 calories for tonight’s dinner.
240 grams Swede – grated or thinly sliced
50 grams green beans, sliced into 3 cm lengths
100 grams cherry tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
2 red chili’s
1 tablespoon fish sauce
30 grams palm sugar
Crushed Peanuts to garnish (optional)
Soak the grated Swede in gold water while you make the dressing
If you sugar is in solid hockey pucks like mine is, break one in half and bash it into a powder in the Mortar.
Add the 2 cloves of garlic and 2 chili’s which have been roughly chopped, and smash further
Add the juice of the lime, and half the skin and bruise the skin.
Add the fish sauce, adjust seasonings to taste
Add the 6 or 7 cherry tomatoes and crush slightly
Drain the Swede, add it to a bowl with the sliced green Beans, pour over the dressing and mix well.
Top with crushed Peanuts if using.