Spicy Green Mango

--Living and eating with a dash of whimsy and a sprinkling of spice--

  • I'm a budding food-tographer turned blogger who's insanely passionate about food..real food...the kind that sprouts from the earth and you have to wash it to eat it. Yes, hearty real food. I live to eat and I eat to live and am loving every bit of it! If you're here, then I suppose we share the same passion! Enjoy!

Posted by Spicy Green Mango 9 comments

With the spring season upon us, I get really inspired to cook up simple dishes using only the freshest ingredients possible.  The sheer abundance of Mother nature's bounty is probably the #1 reason why I love being a Californian.  One of the all-time favorite dishes and quite possibly the single dish that made me life-long friends during college has got to be papaya salad.  This is something I grew up eating and in fact, my mother jokes that I flew out of her womb wielding a mortar and pestle with a fiery chili pepper in my mouth.  Ahh..and this, my friends, is how rumors fly.  But it really isn't too far from reality b/c when I went off to college, my mother graciously bid me adieu with, yep, you guessed it, my very own clay mortar and wooden pestle that I still have to this day.  I tell ya, it's destined be an heirloom in my family.

Papaya salad reminds me of blistering hot summer afternoons when I was a kid and my neighbors and I would all gather on our front yard to cook up a storm.  It was the best of times.  If you haven't ever tried this dish, well, you haven't fully lived your life.  But for those who are familiar, you will understand when I say it's like an explosion of flavors in your mouth--like all the flavors collided and made fireworks and you just don't get how it happens, but it does and you love it! The combination of sweet, spicy, tangy, sour and salty will take your tastebuds on an adventure of its own.
How It's Done:
Gather your ingredients---using your pestle, mash up the garlic/peppers/peanuts in the mortar and then add the crab/shrimp paste---add the rest of the 'juiciness' ingredients and combine well to make your dressing/sauce---throw in your 'freshness' and have a blast mixing it all up using a spoon and your pestle---and tadah!!! Easy, right?  

Disclaimer:  As the scent of fresh garlic mingles with the spice of the chilis and the perfume of citrus dances with the crispness of the papaya strands, you may experience bouts of euphoria, spontaneous salivation and a band of sweat beads glistening on your forehead.  Don't be alarmed..this is very normal (I promise).

  1 fresh, green unripe papaya (shredded)
  10 (at least) cherry tomatoes
  2 cloves of garlic
  5 peanuts (unless you're allergic, then leave'em out!)
  5 red/green Thai chili peppers (you decide how much heat you want)
  1 slice of lime

  1/2 tsp crab paste
  1/2 tsp shrimp paste
  3 tbsp (at least) fish sauce
  1/2 tsp sugar
  2 tbsp tamarind sauce
  1.5 tbsp fermented fish sauce  (you may omit this, but I make it the authentic Lao way, so I always put it in:)

 And then....


Until finally...

You can really enhance this experience with rice vermicelli noodles, jasmine OR sticky rice, fresh cabbage (which really helps lower the impact of the heat factor), morning glory/watercress, pork rinds, dried fish or Laotian sausages.  All of these can be found at your local Asian grocer, so get to it!


And if you do it right, this is what you have left:

Yeah..not a damn thing, except for some of the juicy yumminess (yes, which is exactly why I only use cherry tomatoes..they impart sooo much juice to my salad) which really makes me miss a good friend in China right now b/c she is the only person who makes me pack up what's left (pictured above) in a to-go bag so she can soak it all up with her vermicelli rice noodles at a later time...hilarious!


9 Responses

  1. Sara says:

    Oh MAN I am so trying this soon!! This looks AMAZING! :)

  2. Minh-Chi says:

    these pics are beautiful chandara! I'm bookmarking ur site.

  3. :) Awee..thanks peeps. I will try to do justice to our unique Southeast Asian flavors with a touch of yours truly. Thanks for the kind remarks..stay tuned for more moments to drool.

  4. Liren says:

    Oh my goodness, what a gorgeous blog you have, and what absolutely STUNNING photos! It's absolutely beautiful!

    I also love your mortar and pestle -- growing up, that was always my tool -- my job was to mash the garlic or crush the peppercorns. How wonderful that you have this heirloom! It's still my favorite way to crush garlic :)

    I will definitely be bookmarking your site and look forward to more beautiful posts!

    -Liren @ Kitchen Worthy

  5. Sara says:

    I currently live in central Thailand, and this is about my favorite meal on a super hot day!

  6. Lia Huber says:

    Drooling. Absolutely drooling. Gorgeous photos too!

  7. @Sara from Thailand: Thank you! This is my favorite dish and I will be visiting Thailand in the summer, so I can't wait for the street food!

    @Lia: Thanks and Nourish Network looks great!

  8. Kathy says:

    I can see in the picture that the papaya salad looked so amazingly delicious. Yes I agree with you that cherry and tomatoes adds up to the juiciness of your salad! This recipe is indeed perfect for fried fish or pork. I had an Asian friend who introduced me a recipe out of unripe papaya, Atchara, i has gingers, but it's very good when you team it up with your chicken dishes- those grilled and fried ones!

  9. Hi Kathy! Yes, grilled chicken is probably my favorite with this recipe. Once the weather heats up and I can con my hubby into firing up the grill, I will be revisiting this post with more goodness:)

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