I bought a Papaya on a wim. As an extremely disciplined person by nature, I find it annoyingly frustrating that I can never resist a supermarket food offer! After freely placing it in my basket without a second economic thought, my mind began racing over what to make with it. On my walk home, sat in the cinema that same afternoon and whilst relaxing in the bath the culinary devil sat on my shoulder. With salmon in the fridge I couldn’t resist the flavoursome attraction of Thai ingredients to combine with from the pantry.
This recipe is loosely based on one by ‘The Hairy Bikers’. However it does emit some of the ingredients suggested as the pantry let me down (shocker) on tamarind water….but it tasted delicious! And who knows, it could taste even better? The important thing here is to make the dressing seperately and taste as you go along adding more of any ingredient you need depending on the taste which is how I came up with the below. Only then, once you have it to your liking, should you dress the salad. This may sound hard but trust your instinct and taste buds! See below for help.
Serves 2-3 depending on appetite!
- 1 large papaya, peeled and chopped into matchsticks of julienned with a peeler
- 3 oz red camague rice
- 1 small red chilli, finely copped
- 2cm knob ginger, half grated, half finely chopped
- 1 large garlic clove, grated
- Juice 1 lime
- 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 1 ½ tbsp fish sauce
- 1 ½ tbsp sugar (palm or brown sugar)
- Bunch mint leavves, chopped roughly
- Bunch basil, chopped roughly
- Large handful roasted peanuts
- 2-3 salmon fillets
- 1 head broccoli
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- Start by simmering the rice in boiling water for about 20 minutes until cooked. Drain and keep warm
- Next make the dressing. In a large bowl, mix together the chopped chilli, garlic, ginger, lime juice, soy, fish sauce and sugar. Give it all a good mix and taste. Add more of what you think it needs. This may be hard but use your instinct. Add more lime for sharpness, sugar for sweetness and soy for savoury saltiness. Quantities will all depend on the ingredients you start with. The soy I used here for example was even new to me – a very dark, intense type unlike my usual light soy which is less pungent.
- Set aside the dressing when you’re happy with it while you julienne the papaya. I have a special peeler for this which I highly recommend if you’re into your raw vege noodles (see here). If not, chopp into matchsticks.
- You want to assemble the salad at the last minute when ready to eat so cook your salmon and broccoli before this. Heat a large fryng pan until medium-hot. Add a tbsp olive oil and fry the salmon fillets, skin side down for about 3 minutes on the skin side. Once the skin is nice and crispy turn onto the flesh side and cook for a further 2 minutes to brown it all over and create a lovely charred crust on the outside. Don’t be tempted to cook the salmon longer, the crust on the outside will be a delicous contrast to the soft just-pink inside. No matter what thickness the salmon, it should (generally) never take more than 5 minutes in a medium hot pan. Additionally, it will continue cooking while you bring it to the table.
- Steam or boil your broccoli and drain. Drizzle with the sesame oil.
- When ready to serve, combine the rice with a few tablespoons of dressing. Add the papaya, chopped herbs and peanuts and mix (reserving a handful or herbs for garnish). Add enough dressing to your liking but make sure its not swimming in the stuff!
- Top the salad with your tender salmon fillets alongside your freshly cooked broccoli and scatter with the reserved herbs.
WINE: Excellent served with a delicious Riesling (see here for a suggestion)