Originally from Isan, Northeastern Thailand, it's probably the best known of Thai salads. Traditionally prepared in clay mortar and using a wooden pestle, its recipe is subject to many regional variations. Here is a method full of flavours to prepare this salad without any animal product.
Quantities are given for 1 mortar (1 person as a main course or 2 people as an appetizer).
1 clove garlic
1 bird's eye chili (for a salad with medium spicy, according to western standards)
1 snake beans, cut in 2 cm lengths
175 grams of green papaya, shredded
25 grams of unsalted peanuts, dry roasted
4 cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons tamarind juice
1 to 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce + 1 pinch of salt or 1 tablespoon salted soy beans with their juice
100 grams of fresh rice noodles, preferably prepared from fermented rice flour.
Pound lightly the garlic clove and chilli pepper. Add the green beans and pound lightly. The aim is to soften the ingredients, not to puree them. Add the seasoning and mix with the mortar and a large spoon. Beware, once you have added the seasoning, don't look inside the mortar while you pound, you may be splashed in the eyes!
Add the green papaya and peanuts (keep a few peanuts to decorate). Using spoon and pestle, mix and crush to soften the ingredients. Add the cherry tomatoes and crush lightly, so that they open and release their juice.
Taste to adjust the seasoning and then transfer to a serving plate with the rice noodles.