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Feeling a little better after two days of an energy-draining flu. I was pretty low on energy this morning when I received a call from my friend who lives in the adjacent building of my compound. Kristine is a mix of Laotian, Chinese, Thai and possibly more. She had just cooked up a lunch of jerk chicken, omelet, sticky rice and som tum (spicy green papaya salad) and invited the company of her neighbors, Chozie and myself. This is why I love neighborhoods and often miss the one house per family at street level communities back home in the States. Apartments I’ve lived in, here in Beijing, have been monolithic pillars without a soul in sight, except for an occasional baby’s wail from upstairs or below. If I didn’t already know Kristine from nights out, I might have missed this beautiful opportunity for a home-cooked meal.
Recipe for Kristine’s Som Tum
(literal translation is ‘sour mash up’)
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 fresh red bird’s eye chillies
- 2 limes, juiced
- 1 tablespoon shrimp paste
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- salt to taste
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
- 1 green papaya, shredded
- 1 carrot, shredded
- 8 cherry tomatoes
- 1 handful mint leaves, stemmed
- In a mortar and pestel, mash the ingredients for the dressing until completely pulverized. Combine green papaya, carrot, and cherry tomatoes. Drizzle in the dressing and toss to distribute the flavors evenly.
Kristine served this salad with lettuce leaves we used to wrap the sticky rice and green papaya salad then eat using our fingers.
Variation — Kristine likes to bake half a crab and collect the drippings for the dressing and add the cooked meat to the salad.