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Vietnamese Papaya Salad

As Hop Nguyen, from Bac Ninh province, Vietnam, showed Lindsay Sterling in Yarmouth, ME, February 7, 2010.
Serves 4 as appetizer or side salad
Active time: 20 minutes

1 lb. shredded green papaya*
1-2 carrots
2 Tbsp + 1 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp + 2 tsp salt
juice of ½ lemon
1 heaven point chili pepper, diced
1 c. raw peanuts
large handful fresh thai basil, cilantro, or mint leaves

*I went to Makot Pech market (229 St. John St., Portland, ME. 207-899-3488, open 9-7 every day) for green papaya already shredded in addition to everything else on this list. If you can’t find an Asian market near you, email lindsay@lindsaysterling.com, and I’ll ship you what you need.

1. Toast peanuts dry in a saute pan until fragrant. Peel carrot with a peeler and cut the peels into shoelaces. You want about 1 cup shredded.

2. Soak papaya and carrot in salt water (1 Tbsp salt) in large mixing bowl for about ten minutes to begin to soften. While they’re soaking, put peanuts in a quart size ziplock bag with towel over it and tap with a meat grinder until peanuts are the size of small gems. If you want to make a fancy garnish, carve carrot into flower (click “see how to do it” at right).

4. Strain carrot and papaya. Squeeze handfuls of them hard and you’ll wring almost a cup of water out. Mix in salt, then sugar, then lemon juice. Mix until you see the papaya start to become more limp. Strain remaining liquid and mix in peanuts.

5. Serve topped with whole leaves of fresh cilantro, basil, or mint, and your decorative carrot-flower.

I want your food to turn out! Tell me how it goes. Ask questions. Email lindsay@lindsaysterling.com

© Lindsay Sterling 2010