This Thai Green Papaya Salad has the perfect balance for every corner of your palate...salty, spicy, slightly bitter, sweet, citrus acidity. The very definition of Umami. The salad, garnished with a riot of herbs (cilantro and mint), is generously combined with roasted peanuts for earthy tones and crunchy texture. The addition of seared sea scallops adds a buttery ocean component that is not overpowered by the flavors in the vinaigrette. You can warm your body with the heat of the Thai chiles, adding as much as you dare.
For the vinaigrette
- 4 Cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 Thai chilies, thin slice, seeds included
- 5 Ounce fish sauce
- 2 Tablespoon Thai shrimp paste with soya bean oil
- 6 Ounce lime juice, fresh squeezed
- 2 Tablespoon lime zest
- 1 Tablespoon honey
- 4 Ounce olive oil
For the salad
- 12 Sea scallops (3 per salad)
- 1 Small green papaya, very firm
- 2 Cup Mung bean sprouts
- 12 Scallions, cut on a bias, 2 “ long
- 6 Plum tomatoes, long thin strips
- 1 Cup cilantro leaves
- 1 Cup mint leaves
- 2 Cup roasted peanuts
To make the vinaigrette
Place the chopped garlic and thai chilies in a mortar bowl. With a pestle mash them together to fully puree them.
Add the fish paste, fish sauce, lime juice, lime zest and honey. Whisk everything together to dissolve the honey. Whisk in the oil and let the dressing sit overnight to develop its flavor.
To make the salad
Season sea scallops with salt and white pepper. Heat a small saute pan on medium-high heat and put a tablespoon of olive oil in pan and sear scallops on both sides until carmelized.
Peel the green papaya (the flesh should be white) then slice it in half to remove the seeds. Using a Japanese mandolin, cut the flesh into thin strips 3 inches long. Place in a large bowl with the scallions. With a muddler, bruise the papaya and scallions with 4 ounces of the vinaigrette.
Add the sprouts, tomatoes, peanuts, cilantro and mint. Add more dressing to moisten and toss to combine. Distribute the tossed mixture on four large shallow bowls in a mound.
Pour the remaining vinaigrette from the bowl over the top. Arrange the cooked scallops around the side of the salad. Garnish with extra peanuts and cilantro sprigs.