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Learn the Secrets behind Papaya Salad Making: a Favorite Dish for many Thais and Laotians

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You can bet on the Thais and Laotians for spicy and zesty stuff. One of their favorites is the papaya salad. Known as som tum in Thai tum bak hoong in Isaan (Northeast Thailand) and Laos, the dish is a low calorie, healthy, tasty and certainly spicy dish that will alleviate the senses and beg you for more.

Want to know why the dish is so popular? It combines the four main tastes that the people enjoy most into one salivating dish. The sharp flavor of the papaya, the spiciness of red chilies, the sweetness of palm sugar as well as the saltiness of fish and shrimp sauces result in a dish full of flavor! Don’t be selfish. The dish is meant to be shared. So, the recipe below is for four. Yes, you’ll learn how to make the dish right here! Make sure you have a mortar and pestle ready. It is very important!

Prepare the following items:

2 papayas
6 chilies (this is pretty spicy, add more or less to fit your desired taste)
4 garlic cloves
2 tomatoes
10 green beans
1 cup of chopped basil
3 tablespoons of fish sauce (3.5 tablespoons of soy sauce for vegetarians)
1 tablespoon of shrimp paste (1.5 tablespoons of soy sauce for vegetarians)
0.5 cup of lime juice
1 tablespoon of palm sugar

    Optional:

    Small crabs
    Shrimp
    Chopped nuts

      First shred the main ingredient, the papaya into thin strips. Make sure you have all the seeds removed. Then grab the fish sauce, shrimp paste, lime juice and palm sugar and mix it into one bowl. Set these aside for now.

      Now the fun part. It is time to do some smashing! Get your garlic cloves and throw it in the mortar and pestle. Show no mercy, smash them up. Then add the tomatoes and smash it a few times only to release the juice. Now it is the green beans’ turn. And then the fire of the dish, the chili peppers. Smash them in. Finally add the papaya, peanuts and condiments and use the pestle to push the mixture up and down in the mortar. If you want to add in the optionals, this is a good time for them to join the party. Push them up down and around the mortar so it gets the taste from the older ingredients. Pour your creation onto a plate and enjoy!

      Get a taste of this and other great dishes with our Taste of Laos tour. A fine culinary experience awaits as you journey across the country. In addition, you will also explore the country’s main cultural sites, immerse yourself with the local culture and discover the country’s wildlife.

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