Thursday night, after months and months of planning, my coworker Nick and I united our bloggin noggins. Nick has an awesome blog, The Littlest Winslow, where he writes movies, music, pop culture and general musings. Anyway, he recently created an ambitious challenge for himself entitled The Epic Film Quest where he must watch every single “Best Picture” Academy Award winning film. EVERY SINGLE ONE! Read about his progress here.
When I heard about his adventure I pitched an idea that we get together at his house (because his TV is about 50 inches bigger and 10 years newer than mine, which is huge and white and has a built in VHS player) to watch a movie and cook some vegan food. Then I blog about it, and he blogs about it and BAM bloggers unite.
Well we kept making dates, and cancelling them, and making them, and three months later we finally sat down to watch Rebecca, the only Hitchcock film ever to win Best Picture. Also, I read the book by Daphne Du Maurier, which is why I chose it from his list of movies he needs to watch. Check Nick’s blog out to read what he thought of the (misogynistic?) film.
Unfortunately, I was feeling lazy, and so we didn’t cook. Instead, we ordered Thai food.
For me, the mark of a good Thai restaurant is a great green papaya salad. The best papaya salad I have ever eaten was, in fact, not from a restaurant at all. It was from a tiny stall at the farmer’s market in Pahoa, Hawaii, where my lovely goddess mama lives. The woman who makes the salads must have some secret because people line up for that stuff. At 9 am. It’s a damn good breakfast.
The green papaya is exactly what it sounds like—an unripe papaya. In this traditional Thai dish—known as Som Tum—it is shredded and mixed with lime juice, spicy chilies, tomato, long beans and usually fish sauce although I always ask them to leave that off of course. Green papaya has a texture like cabbage, and if done right, is yummy scrumbos. (If you know this reference, I will marry you.)
The Som Tum I ate Thursday night was only alright, mostly because it was take-out so by the time it arrived it was all soggy. It was still spicy and tangy, though. Also they didn’t give me chopsticks. Who delivers asian food without chopsticks WHO?! The restaurant, Thai Spice, is part of the well known chain of Thai restaurants in CT and NY. I like all of their restaurants, and they make excellent Thai curry. But for their papaya salad, I give them a 5 out of 10.
Below is a vegan recipe for Som Tum which I adapted from the New York Times but rarely make because green papayas are hard to find around here! Also I subbed out their long beans for edamame to give the dish a protein kick. This is not traditional, but whatever, I do what I want!
Vegan Som Tum
Serves: 4/ Prep Time: 15 minutes/ Cook Time: 5 minutes
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp dry-roasted salted peanuts, plus more for garnish
3 fresh chilies, diced
1/2 tsp agave
4 tbsp fresh lime juice (I like it really limey)
1 cup grape tomatoes, chopped
1 cup edamame
1 medium green (unripe) papaya
½ cup bean sprouts
Lettuce or kale for serving
In a blender, blend garlic, salt, peanuts, chilies, lime juice and agave into a paste.
Put in a bowl and add tomatoes, bean sprouts and edamame. Mash the tomatoes a bit with a spoon so they are juicy.
Peel carrot. Peel papaya, cut in half and get rid of the seeds and insides. Shred carrot and papaya, using a hand grater or your food processor, if you have one.
Add papaya and carrot to your bowl and toss. If you’re making it pretty, line a bowl or platter with your lettuce or kale. Pile up your papaya salad on it and sprinkle with your extra peanuts.