I don’t know about you but when I travel it’s all about the food. Whether it was riding an endless train in Chicago for some goat or arranging the perfect girls night meal in Ocean City, I like to plan my meals. Usually this means watching endless episode of Anthony Bourdain to see if he’s been where I’m going or stalking the Instagram feeds of friends who are always headed somewhere new.
That’s what I did for a long weekend in Boston last year. Cathy from GastronomyBlog directed me to Neptune Oyster, which was actually closed when I tried to visit but at least I had a plan. Marc and I then redirected to Union Oyster House and actually missed President Obama by about 10 minutes. Seriously.
Okay, but this is not a recipe for lobster rolls or oysters.
I still had one more reservation to make but was at a loss over where to go. Enter The Grub Street Diet. I am a diligent Friday morning reader of diets of people I sometimes don’t know about and the places I dream about that they frequent. Usually the person featured each week is in New York but summertime means vacation and the diet follows wherever a moderately famous person goes. Political commentator Sally Kohn was the diet of choice the week before I was in Boston and how convenient, she was in New England for much of her week.
Finally a chance to dine like a grub streeter!
In between trips to the aquarium and a ratatouille tart, Kohn slipped into Myers and Chang for an unexpected but awesome lunch. And how convenient for me, Myers and Chang was just a 10 minute walk from our hotel. Reservation for two, please!
To make things even better we were going to dinner on a Monday. Mondays are special at Myers and Chang, it’s Cheap Date Night. They offer a few prix-fixe menus specially designed for two and give you awesome tastes at a totally affordable price. We nibbled on spring rolls, sipped Lagunitas and had papaya salad. Twice.
Never in my life have I ordered a dish multiple times during the same visit to a restaurant. But this spicy papaya salad with a dressing punched up with fish sauce and tart lime, I couldn’t get enough on the first go-around. I usually don’t go for spicy foods but the slivered chiles that numbed my lips as my chopsticks dove into the bowl for more were perfect.
There are less than ten ingredients in a Thai Papaya Salad. But obviously papaya is a main ingredient, more specifically green papaya. Umm I did not know where to buy green papaya and thought an underripe but not green papaya would be fine substitute. Eh not so much, it was good but not as good as the green stuff or just eating bright orange fully ripe papaya. So unless you can get your hands on a green papaya I would cut this salad with cucumber or just do cucumber.
Actually, either way add the cucumber. It was really refreshing and played well with the dressing.
Other than figuring out your papaya situation the salad is pretty straightforward. The dressing is something you can easily bang together. The banging part is important, we’re not shaking together oil and vinegar, the dressing ingredients are muddled together.
I think you’re supposed to use a mortar and pestle or even a cocktail muddler, but I have neither so I roughly chopped up the jalapeno, garlic, and lime and mushed it up with the fish sauce, sugar and tomatoes with the back of a sturdy ladle.
Either way, the smashed dressing is then mixed together with the papaya and cucumber and showered with a fistful of chopped peanuts. To me, the peanuts are not optional. They’re more than garnish. The salty nut nibs are essential. If you’re not a peanut person sub in another crunchy nut or bit, like chopped roasted chickpeas, but do something to add crunch to this light papaya salad.
- 1 pound green papaya, or 1/2 pound green papaya and 1/2 pound of cucumber
- 1 large jalapeno
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 lime
- 1 1/2 tablespoons white sugar
- 2 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 10 cherry tomatoes
- 1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts
- Shred the papaya and/or cucumber with a box grater or food processor. I also like to use a peeler to make long noodle-like strips of the papaya and cucumber. Set aside in a large bowl.
- Roughly chop the garlic and jalapeno, removing the white membrane and seeds if you're worried about the heat level. Slice half of the lime into thin wedges.
- In a small bowl smash the garlic, jalapeno, lime and sugar together with a cocktail muddler or a sturdy spoon.
- Half the cherry tomatoes and add them to the bowl and bruise them as well but not so much to completely break them down.
- Add the fish sauce and juice from the remaining half of the lime and taste for seasoning.
- Toss the dressing with the papaya and cucumber.
- Plate and add peanuts to each dish.