Not Too Spicy Green Papaya Salad

(Hey! Update to this post – you can watch me make this salad on my YouTube page. Thanks and now back to the blog…)

California drought friendly and delicious, this papaya salad is a refreshing, bright, crunchy, herbaceous and spicy (not too spicy!) dish, perfect for warm weather months.

Super Sous and I traveled to Vietnam in February, our first stop being Hanoi, the capital city in the North. Upon arrival, we immediately arranged a street food tour of the Old Quarter of Hanoi (where we were staying). Our wonderful guide, Tam, took us on a whirlwind food extravaganza through the streets, alleys and hidden corridors to eat some of the best food Hanoi has to offer. From classics like Bun Cha to Egg Coffee to Beef Pho we ate A LOT, probably hitting up 7 different street food vendors/restaurants within the 3 hours of wandering.

Our third stop for the night was at a spot that served the best Papaya Salad we have ever had. At first, Super Sous and I were a little nervous about this dish as papaya salads we have eaten in Thai restaurants have been extremely spicy, but this salad was the perfect blend and balance of sweet, sour and spice. It was then that Super Sous and I fell in love with the Vietnamese papaya salad and despite our best efforts to not overeat and pace ourselves that evening, we couldn’t resist finishing off the whole salad.

Tam NL SS

Me, Tam – our street food tour guide – and Super Sous

Upon returning to California, we created our own version which comes pretty close to our experience. A note about the green papaya – you can find these in an Asian grocery store. (Sometimes they even have it pre-shredded in bags – score!) To shred yourself, cut in half, peel the section you want to use and shred using a citrus zester (photo below), a “noodler” (the instrument that makes zucchini noodles) a food processor (with the shredding attachment) or a box grater.

Citrus Zester

Citrus Zester

Now, a note about drought friendly recipes: Super Sous and I started the project of creating drought friendly recipes as a way for all of us around the country to help conserve California’s water. What I love about this recipe is the use of Virginia peanuts. They are so good! (It wouldn’t at all have anything to do with me being a Native Virginian…) Peanuts are a groundnut and therefore do not grow like almonds or walnuts in large orchards that require a lot of watering. Peanuts are a good source of protein and with their low water footprint, are a great alternative to almonds. According to the Water Footprint Organization, it takes 381 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of peanuts, whereas almonds require 6 times that amount. So, yay for peanuts!

green papaya salad

Green Papaya Salad

Yields: 2 servings

 

Dressing:

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

2 teaspoons fish sauce

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

¾ teaspoon freshly grated ginger, grated on a microplane

½ teaspoon freshly grated garlic, grated on a microplane

2 teaspoons minced lemongrass

¼ Bird’s eye aka Thai chili, finely chopped

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

 

Salad:

2 cups packed shredded green papaya

¼ cup grated carrot (1 medium carrot)

½ cup thinly sliced green beans, sliced on a bias (8 beans)

3 tablespoons whole toasted peanuts

½ cup quartered grape tomatoes (7 tomatoes)

¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves

¼ cup fresh Thai basil leaves

¼ cup fresh mint leaves

 

Combine dressing ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and let sit for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally so the sugar dissolves.

Add papaya, carrot and green beans to dressing and massage ingredients together with your hands for approximately 30 seconds, to meld all flavors and allow dressing to permeate papaya.

Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine.

Divide onto plates and serve.

Alaskan True Cod Taco with Pickled Radish and Radish Top Salsa

Another in the series of Drought Friendly Recipes.

In our last post, Super Sous and I wrote about food waste and gave two recipes utilizing radishes and radish tops. Today’s taco puts those two recipes to great use in this flavorful recipe that’s not only easy to prepare and delicious, but beautiful. Just look at those colors! Bonus – it’s not only a drought friendly recipe, but it’s a sustainable seafood dish. Boom!

First – make the Pickled Radish and Radish Top Salsa. Then, bring on the tacos…

Radish Top and Red Pepper Salsa

Radish Top Salsa

pickeld radish

Pickled Radish

Cod Taco Close

Taco Up Close and Personal!

Cod Taco Full

Colorful Taco!

Cod Taco Hand

Alaskan True Cod Taco with Pickled Radish and Radish Top Red Pepper Salsa

Yield: 6 tacos

Cod:

1 pound wild Alaskan true cod, 1-inch thick

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon grapeseed oil

Pat the fish dry and season all over with salt and pepper.

Place a medium non stick sauté pan over medium heat and add oil.

Let heat for 2 minutes until oil is very hot.

Add fish and let cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. You will know the fish is done when the flesh becomes opaque and begins to flake.

Remove fish from pan and transfer to a plate. Flake the fish with a fork or fingers into bite-sized pieces. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper.

Assembling the Taco:

6 Corn tortillas, warmed through

2 avocados, pitted and sliced thinly

½ cup shredded purple cabbage

¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves

Place a cabbage on the tortilla, followed by avocado slices, fish, pickled radish and top with salsa. Sprinkle cilantro leaves and serve.

Pass the Salt Podcast is LIVE!

Announcing PASS THE SALT Podcast! Yes. We’re doing it. Aarti Sequeira (Food Network Star, Author of Aarti Paarti Cookbook), Sarah Forman (Culinary Manager & “Super Sous”), Brendan McNamara (Actor, Comedian, Maker of Movies) and I are podcasting.

“Pass the Salt” podcast – the convivial conjunction of pop culture and the food world. Eat, talk, repeat! From bone broth to uni to coffee to ice cream – we cover all the good stuff. New episodes each Wednesday.

Tune in and subscribe at http://ptspod.tumblr.com/

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram: @ptspod

Questions, comments, topic ideas? Send them in (through my blog, twitter, Instagram…)! We want to hear from you.

PTSPOD Collage

Pickled Radish and Radish Top Red Pepper Salsa – Drought Friendly Recipe

On March 18, Super Sous and I wrote a blog introducing our “Drought Friendly Recipe” project. Recipes that are delicious and have low water footprints. Good to make no matter where you are in the USA – since 50% of all California produce is shipped to feed the country.

In that blog, we mentioned the idea of food waste, writing that 40% of all food that is grown in the US is wasted. This happens on all levels of the food chain. From the farms to transportation to grocery stores to restaurants to our own homes. Inherent in that 40% is approximately 11 trillion gallons of lost water. California is relying heavily on groundwater (think using your savings account instead of living off of your checking account – where your checking account would be California’s reservoirs). As the groundwater has been depleting, we are drilling wells reaching water that fell to the earth 20,000 years ago. As Mother Jones writes, “Such water is not just old. It’s prehistoric. It is older than the earliest pyramids on the Nile, older than the world’s oldest tree, the bristlecone pine. It was swirling down rivers and streams 15,000 to 20,000 years ago when humans were crossing the Bering Strait from Asia.”

We need to conserve all the water we can!

On April 22 (Earth Day and Super Sous’ birthday!), MSNBC will be broadcasting a documentary on food waste called “Just Eat It.” You can watch the trailer and/or check out this fascinating view of food waste at its origins on the farm:

Screen Shot 2015-04-13 at 11.42.22 AM

Although we may not have control over how something is farmed, we can certainly control things once we purchase them.

Let’s take the simple radish. Somewhat underestimated, the radish is a delicious addition to your regular repertoire. Radishes are a crunchy, spicy root vegetable that are delicious whether raw or roasted.

Not only is the radish delicious, but radish tops are a tasty green. Mild with a slight hint of pepper; delicate, but not too delicate; they have integrity. Radish tops often get discarded, but they are so worth preparing – raw, sauteed or in this radish top red pepper salsa recipe which is perfect for a taco, chips/crackers, potatoes…

Since it’s edible, delicious and took water to grow, let’s enjoy the whole thing. Here’s one idea to utilize the whole radish – from root to top.

pickeld radish

Pickled Radish

½ pound radish, rinsed and cut into 1/8-inch slices

1 cup distilled white vinegar

¾ cup water

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

Add all ingredients to a small bowl and mix to combine.

Let sit for at least 1 hour before using.

Radish Top and Red Pepper Salsa

Radish Top and Red Pepper Salsa

Yield: 1 cup

5 large fire-roasted red bell peppers, drained and rough chopped (1 cup)

2 large garlic cloves, peeled and rough chopped

¼ cup roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley

¼ cup roughly chopped fresh mint leaves

1 cup roughly chopped (rinsed) radish greens

1½ tablespoons whole grain Dijon mustard

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Zest of ½ small lemon (1/4 teaspoon)

Juice of ½ small lemon (1 Tablespoon)

1/8 teaspoon ground cumin

1/8 teaspoon ground coriander

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

½ teaspoon granulated sugar

Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Season to taste with additional salt, lemon and/or sugar. Let sit for 1 hour for flavors to meld before serving.

Roasted Eggplant Caponata

eggplant caponata

Roasted Eggplant Caponata

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

1 large Italian eggplant, peeled and diced medium (approximately 7 to 8 cups)

2 medium yellow onions, peeled and diced small (2 cups)

7 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, divided

3 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced (1 tablespoon)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground fennel seed

¼ teaspoon crushed red chile pepper (chile flakes), or to taste

1 fennel bulb, diced small (1 cup)

1 large red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, cored and diced small (1¼ cup)

1 (14-ounce) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained

3 tablespoons capers, rinsed, drained, and chopped roughly

1 cup green olives, pits removed and chopped roughly

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

⅓ cup roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley

7 medium-sized fresh basil leaves, stacked, rolled and sliced very thinly

 

Adjust two oven racks to the middle position, then preheat the oven to 450ºF.

In a large bowl, toss the eggplant with 3 tablespoons of oil, and season well with salt and pepper.

Spread out the eggplant in one layer onto two parchment paper-lined sheet pans. Roast, uncovered, in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove the sheet pans from the oven, stir the eggplant, then place the sheet pans back in the oven, this time on opposite racks. Bake 15 minutes more, until the eggplants are lightly colored and cooked through.

After the eggplant has been cooking for 15 minutes, stir the diced onion with ¼ cup of oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook for approximately 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft, translucent, and lightly caramelized.

Next, stir in the garlic, cumin, ground fennel, and chile flakes and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.

Add the diced fennel and the bell pepper and cook until they begin to soften, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes, capers, olives, vinegar and baked eggplant. Cook until the caponata has thickened, approximately 15 minutes, then remove from the heat, season to taste with salt and pepper, and stir in the parsley and basil.

Serve and enjoy.

This recipe can be found in my cookbook, Great Food Starts Fresh!