Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Thai Slaw

While I was driving home from work today, I was craving coleslaw (yet again). I would make coleslaw everyday if I didn't think it would result in a mutiny. Set to make coleslaw, I mentally debated what kind of coleslaw to make. Nothing was shouting "Make me!" until I drove past the Thai restaurant at the bottom of my street. Cue light bulb.

My dad is tired of going out for Thai food with me and my mom. Not because we won't let him choose what to order (on the contrary, he usually has free rain), or because we won't let him order food as spicy as he would like. It's because we insist nay demand that we order the Green Papaya Salad every single time we go. I've seen it on the menu of every Thai restaurant I have been in. And for good reason. It's delicious. Crunchy, crisp, refreshing, and light. I could make a meal on it alone.

It is also something that I have wanted to make at home for quite some time. But you know what? It's really freaking hard to find green papaya without going 10 miles out of my way. I'm not braving the drive. There are teenagers texting while driving, and old people old people going 45 miles per hour on the freeway. I can't justify braving the 10 miles to find one ingredient when I have a really good Thai restaurant at the end of my street.

But today I had no money to spend on food (or anything else). I would have to improvise my green papaya salad. 

Well, green papaya itself doesn't have much flavor. The flavor is all in the dressing. Green papaya is just really crispy. But wait! So is cabbage.  Cabbage is a lot easier to find, and probably cheaper. And its the base for coleslaw. Green papaya salad does strike me as more of a slaw than a salad. Why not make a Thai coleslaw (or is it just a slaw if there is no mayo)? So I did.

It was delicious. Light, perfect for a hot day, and it had all the flavors I was craving. It would be great with some grilled chicken satay this summer for a BBQ. I ate it by itself for lunch. Rice would have been nice though. Update: I ate a Cliff bar an hour later because I was still hungry after lunch. With rice it would constitute lunch.

This slaw is not the ubiquitous "Asian Slaw" (You know the one I'm talking about. The one with the over-done sesame dressing), but is still decidedly Asian (more so in fact). It doesn't need to be chilled, and it's bathing suit friendly. I don't know what more I could ask for in a slaw (salad? semantics).

Now if only I could find an Asian flavored coleslaw dressing that is creamy....

Thai Slaw
This can very easily be modified. Traditionally, there are green beans in the salad, but I don't like raw green beans and didn't want to turn on the stove so they got left out. Feel free to use a fresh Serrano or jalapeno in place of the crushed red pepper flakes. All I had were the crushed red pepper flakes and I was trying not to spend money on lunch. 

3 tablespoons fish sauce
3 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoons sugar (or more to taste. I added another 1 1/2 teaspoons)
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1 green cabbage, thinly sliced
2 tomatoes, cut into 1/8ths
1/4 cup roasted, salted peanuts

1 pound cooked, cooled shrimp (optional)

Combine the fish sauce, garlic, lime juice, sugar, and pepper in a large bowl. Taste, and adjust seasoning so it tastes balanced. Add cabbage, tomatoes, and peanuts (and shrimp). Toss to combine. Eat.


  1. I love this salad too Deanna! And isn't it such a bonus that it's so healthy for you too? :D

  2. Psst Deanna, I just wanted to let you know that I talked to the Flying Fish people who agreed to open up the comp to overseas readers! ;) x

  3. That looks fabulous, Deanna! It was very clever of you, exchanging and rearranging things to make it work for your pantry. I love the lightness and freshness. :-)

  4. Ohhhh, this looks so good. This is my idea of the perfect lunch. And dare I say it, the perfect summertime dinner!

  5. It was the perfect lunch. And according to my sources, it tasted good a few hours later too.

  6. This looks fantastic and refreshing! I've been craving some shrimp, too, so I'll need to make this soon!

  7. that looks so good! i love the green papaya salad at thai restaurants too. and the french toast sounds amazing the way you made it.