The other day, Aaron’s parents gave us a lovely big green papaya from their tree. So, lucky us – we got to eat som tum for dinner! Som tum is a spicy Thai salad that incorporates the beautiful flavours of chilli, lime juice and fish sauce into a fresh salad that is a perfect accompaniment to a Thai meal.
There are many variations of som tum, depending on what additional ingredients you add. The most well known is probably som tum thai which has peanuts.
We haven’t eaten som tum since we left Thailand (almost two years ago now) so I was looking forward to making it and tucking into some tasty Thai goodness.
Flicking through my Thai recipe book, I found two chicken stir fry recipes that I liked the sound of – stir-fried chicken with chilli paste and chicken with cashew nuts. The chicken with chilli paste didn’t have any veggies in it and the chicken with cashews didn’t have enough chilli so I decided to combine the two into a spicy, nutty, vegetabley stir-fry fest. Yes!
Here’s what I did:
Chilli Chicken with Cashew Nuts
Serves 4 with rice or 2 without.
500g chicken thigh fillet, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tbsp chilli paste
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup toasted or crispy cashew nuts
2 shallots, chopped
1 small onion, roughly chopped or sliced
4 finely chopped kaffir lime leaves
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp coconut aminos
1-2 fresh chillis, chopped (optional)
good handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped
coconut oil for frying
Heat the coconut oil in a wok until very hot.
Add the chilli paste and fry, stirring for a few seconds until fragrant (being careful not to burn it – I learned this the hard way!), then add the coconut milk and bring to the boil stirring.
Add the chicken and cook until done.
Throw in the cashew nuts, onions and shallots and cook for a couple of minutes until the onions are slightly softened.
Turn off the heat and add the fish sauce and coconut aminos to taste.
Spoon into bowls and garnish with chopped chilli and coriander.
1 medium green papaya, peeled and shredded/julienned
8 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/4 cup of dried shrimp
1/4 – 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
8 black peppercorns
6 cloves garlic
shredded rind of 2 limes
3 tbsp rapadura
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp tamarind juice (made from 1 tsp tamarind puree mixed with 1 tbsp water)
Lightly pound the papaya with the mortar to bruise and release some juices. Place into a large bowl.
Pound the garlic, chilli, peppercorns and tomatoes until thoroughly mashed up. Add to the bowl with the papaya.
Add the dried shrimp and lime rind to the bowl and toss. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, gently heat the tamarind juice, fish sauce and rapadura until the rapadura has dissolved. Allow to cool and then add the lime juice. This is your dressing.
When ready to serve, pour the dressing over the som tum and toss well.
As we’re trying out the Paleo thang at the moment, I didn’t serve this meal with rice (but if you’re cool with grains then go ahead and serve on a bed of steamed jasmine rice). Instead we had a big serve of papaya salad with our chicken and we were comfortably full by the end.
by Mel Duncan