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Tantalizing “Som Tam” : : Spicy Green Papaya Salad

Here on Guam there’s this cute little Thai cantina located in the village of Ordot called Thai Smoothie & Grill. If you live here and haven’t tried it yet or are planning a trip to GU, you must stop by.

So, this little gem is pretty noticeable from the main road, but you wouldn’t know it served up Thai food at first glance. The outside is painted with thick vertical red and white stripes accented with a horizontal navy blue stripe along the roof. Yep…like an American flag. The owner’s husband once told me that she explicitly asked him to do this design for her. A few months back I saw the husband outside freshening up the paint, so I’m guessing this Americana decor is doing something for attracting customers and won’t be going anywhere any time soon. But let me be clear, the food is 100% Thai. There aren’t any fries, burgers, or even finadene available. Though she does offer a special house made vinegar like sauce with her fried rice (which is bomb-diggity!). I pass on the sauce though, since it contains MSG. I’m just not about that life! But if you don’t mind it, grab some, I’m sure it’s delicious.

The owner and chef is a sweet, medium height Thai woman who makes every. dish. from. scratch. Trying to get an order in between noon and 1pm on a weekday is near impossible. They even have to stop answering the phone they’re so slammed. But let me tell you, it’s worth it. Scratch made food can’t be beat. You’ll be able to tell from first bite, of pretty much anything on her menu, that there’s no prepackaged sauces goin’ on. The menu is pretty small, only 12 dishes, and a classic sign of a restaurant that does just a few things very well. My favorite go-to dishes are the Fresh Spring Rolls paired with a sweet chunky peanut dipping sauce, Shrimp Fried Rice, and the Papaya Salad. Now…this papaya salad is SOOOO good I can literally eat the whole dish myself. And most of the dishes here are served family style and meant to be shared. I think the only thing that keeps this “family style” for my family is the intense heat that is in it. We always order “spicy, no MSG”. And so we are usually shoveling in fried rice and wiping our noses between bites, allowing the other person a chance to steal a few extra scoops onto their plate until there’s nothing but a few lettuce scraps left. LOL!

Well since all of you won’t have a chance to stop by Thai Smoothi & Grill, I thought I’d provide you with my own little version of the classic Papaya Salad. And if I do say so myself, it’s pretty dang good! It hits all the sweet, tangy, salty, and of course spicy notes of TS&G’s.

I imagine you gals cookin’ up this dish for your hubby for date night. Hence, the “tantalizing” portion of the title. If your man is a bit adventurous and likes spicy food, girl, you need to givem’ a lil’ of this! To beef this meal up just a bit for your Hungry Man, I recommend adding a side of steamed rice and shredded roasted chicken. You can then layer all the items on a plate at the table and get real fancy! I’ve created a pdf version of my recipe (Spicy Green Papaya Salad) for you to print and take with you to the grocery store and to follow along with in the kitchen as you prepare. No need to lug your laptop into the kitchen or keep clicking your phone’s screen to keep it awake with messy hands. Once your done, pop the sheet into your cookbook for future reference. You could also pass it along to a friend.

Cultural Background:

Originally a part of Laos cuisine, called tam som which means ” pounded sour”, there are a few variations to this salad. The one I created is based on the Thai version. But Cambodia also has it’s own take on the Green Papaya Salad, calling it boo l’hong and in Vietnam it’s referred to as goi du du. All of the variations contain a few common ingredients; green (unripe) papaya, chili, fish sauce, lime, and palm sugar. Traditionally a mortar and pestle are used to combine the base spices and hence the “pounded” portion of the name.

So, ladies what do you think?! Do you have a favorite Thai food? Would you make this dish for your man? Talk to me in the comments below. I’ll be sure to reply.

-Anjelica

 

 

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