One of my favourite Thai salads is ‘som tam’. I have eaten it from street carts in Phuket, a garage down a laneway of Koh Phi Phi as well as fancy restaurants. What they all had in common was the fire of the chilli, crunch of the green papaya and the sweet, salty, sour and spice of the dressing. The rice crust on the fish gives a lovely contrast to the delicate flesh.
Rice-crusted snapper with green papaya, chilli & peanut salad
100g jasmine rice
peanut oil, for pan-frying
1 x 500g snapper fillet, skin on, pin boned
2 garlic cloves, sliced
2 red bird’s eye chillies, sliced
50g palm sugar, chopped
100ml fish sauce
100ml lime juice
Green papaya, chilli & peanut salad salad
1 small green papaya
1 large handful roughly torn coriander
2 snake beans, cut into 4 cm lengths
4 cherry tomatoes, quartered
80g roasted peanuts, chopped
2 red bird’s eye chillies, seeded and finely sliced
1. Fry the rice in a dry non-stick frying pan over low heat, stirring frequently, until the rice turns opaque. Transfer to a food processor and pulse until the rice is ground to a consistency slightly coarser than sand. Set aside.
2. For the dressing
Blitz the garlic, chilli and palm sugar in a food processor until finely ground. Add the fish sauce and lime juice and blitz again until the sugar has dissolved.
3. For the green papaya, chilli & peanut salad
Peel the skin off the papaya. Using your peeler, continue to peel off thin slices of the papaya, until you reach the seeds. Stack the papaya slices on top of each other. Using a sharp knife, slice them as finely as possible.
4. Toss the papaya with the remaining salad ingredients, and enough of the dressing to coat them nicely, using your hand to squash and bruise the ingredients together.
5. To serve
Preheat the oven to 180°C .
6. Heat a little peanut oil in a non-stick ovenproof frying pan over medium–high heat. Season the fish with sea salt, then dip the flesh side in the ground rice and press to coat well. Place in the pan, rice-crusted side down, and cook for about 2 minutes.
7. Turn the fish onto the flesh side, transfer to the oven and bake for 5 minutes, or until just cooked through.
8. Place a large mound of the salad on a platter and serve the fish alongside, with the crusted side up.
From Huxtabook: Recipes from Sea, Land and Earth by Daniel Wilson.