It’s a complicated thing, salad. It’s our friend and our enemy. We eat it because we know we should. Sometimes it tastes good and sometimes it tastes bad. Sometimes we put so much caesar dressing we’d be better off eating a burger. But sometimes we eat a truly delicious salad, forget it’s a “salad” all together, and simply enjoy it for the dish that it is. And when that happens we remember it, and we tell everyone we know.
So you can imagine our excitement when we tried the papaya salad at The Lucky Bee – the new, funky, Thai restaurant on the Lower East Side that you may have tried to get into recently. Everyone’s been talking about this place, and for good reason. The tables are pink, the signs are neon, but most importantly, the food is spicy and delicious. It’s the kind of stuff you want to eat all summer, and that’s why we’re bringing you their recipe today.
Because a great thing about salads is they’re ridiculously easy to make, so unlike all those other recipes you read online you might actually make this one happen.
So, if a salad that’s flavorful, simple, healthy, and a little bit spicy sounds good to you, then give this one a try tonight.
*you’d be surprised how easily you can find this stuff at a grocery store in Chinatown
1. Before you dive into the salad, you’ll need to make the tamarind dressing. Start by soaking 1/2 block of dehydrated tamarind in 1 liter of lukewarm water for 30 minutes.
2. As it softens, give it a nice massage with your hands to help break down the pulp.
3. Dump it all in a strainer. Keep the tamarind infused water. Discard the rest.
4. Add chili powder, fish sauce, and palm sugar to the tamarind water. Blend it all in a blender, and taste. Like most Thai dishes, it should taste sweet, sour, and spicy all at once.
1. As with many salads, “making” this salad doesn’t require much more than mixing all the ingredients together. The thing that makes this one special is the use of a mortar & pestle. If you don’t have one, improvise, but it’ll be much if you do.
2. Start by pounding the garlic and chili into a paste.
3. Next add your snake beans (again, regular green beans will do the trick), and pound them just until they’re lightly bruised. Don’t go too crazy here…
4. Then add cherry tomatoes. Pound lightly until they’re broken, but again, don’t destroy them.
5. Add the green papaya, and yes, you guessed it, continue to pound.
1. Once everything is thoroughly pounded (please, for all our sakes, resist making the obvious joke…), top your salad with the good stuff.
2. Top with tamarind water, peanuts, and dried shrimp, and mix it all together.
SERVE & EAT
1. After mere minutes, your salad is good to go. Transfer it to whatever bowl you want, and enjoy the tastiest “salad” you’ve probably had in a while.
This really is just about the easiest thing you could possible make, but if you just can’t right now, then head over to The Lucky Bee on Broome Street and have them make it for you.
Photography via Dana DeLaski
Recipe via Chef Matty Bennett