When something is on his mind, The Boy will cook! It’s rare, but it happens.
One night, he was craving papaya salad – something we order frequently when we’re in Uptown (a Chicago neighborhood with a Vietnamese community). We had all the ingredients, but something came up that night (I don’t recall what), so he didn’t get to it.
He held his craving to the next day and cut open a papaya, only to find that it was ripe. (Ripe papayas don’t work in this recipe.) He ran out to the store only to come home and cut open another yet another ripe papaya. Yikes.
This cooking this was discouraging him.
The next night he went to a nearby Korean grocery store and made sure the newly acquired papaya was green. Fortunately, it was.
Here was the end result.
He ate it with some shrimp chips that we fried up and he was a happy boy.
Fear of making the nuoc cham has made us buy the bottled stuff. (I remember the smell of the house when my parents boiled the vinegar to dissolve the sugar. I realize now boiling is an unnecessary step for the sake of melting sugar and definitely isn’t worth the pungent smell). But I think we’re ready to try making our own nuoc cham soon enough.
One more thing –
The Boy’s Rating: “Ohmigosh, this has been on my mind for three days!!!!” [I think that means he liked it.]
Quickie Papaya Salad Recipe for 1:
1/4 of a large green papaya, shredded
1 carrot, shredded
4 basil leaves, finger tear them into small pieces
2 tablespoon nuts, chopped
1/4 cup nuoc cham (if not homemade, Asian markets sell these in bottles)
5 shrimp chips (optional)
Mix the papaya and carrot together. Top with basil leaves, nuts and add nuuc cham (in that order).
If desired, fry shrimp chips.
Smile & enjoy.