Som Tam

Or, as we like to call it, “Sometimes.

Okay, I’m really pissed because I made some delicious food last night but the photos came out hell of shitteh so I don’t want to show them to you. I made the dish I was going to enter into this month’s Joust, which I made only because the ingredients inspired me: seared sea scallops with kaffir lime-lemongrass gastrique and coconut foam, served with green papaya-chayote slaw (som tam) and fragrant jasmine rice. I even taught myself about soy lecithin and got all molecular gastronomy on that shit! And I served the whole thing surf-and-turf style, with medallions of venison tenderloin that I rubbed with homemade green curry paste and drizzled with a pho-scented jus! It was delicious, high-end Thai food. I’ll make it again, but I just want to go on the record to say I thought of that dish.

The only good photos I got were before Tammy and Steve arrived. I wanted to shoot some of it once it was plated, but with every second that I contemplated a photo, the food was getting colder. I rushed two shots that didn’t turn out, and decided to post the salad instead.

Som Tam (green papaya salad)
I made this my own way, using shredded chayote for some added green flavor and crunch. I also used crushed papaya seed for a bit of pepperiness. In Thailand chayote is called fuk maew. Yes, this looks like it should sound kinda like “fuck meow”.

1 green papaya (I used an underripe strawberry papaya), seeded
1 chayote, seeded
2 bird’s eye chilis, seeded
1 clove garlic
1 tsp of the papaya seeds
1/2 tsp pink peppercorn
juice and zest from one lime
2 tbsp palm sugar (brown sugar can substitute)
1/4 c rice vinegar
few squirts fish sauce

Run the papaya and chayote through the grating attachment of your food processor (or you can do it on a regular cheese grater, or julienne them). Transfer to a large bowl.

Prepare the dressing: Mince the chili and garlic, crush the papaya seed and pink peppercorn together in a mortar and pestle and stir together with the lime, vinegar and fish sauce. Add the palm sugar and heat in the microwave for about 30 second to dissolve the sugar. Use fish sauce to salt the dressing as needed. Toss dressing with papaya and chayote and let sit for at least 15 minutes so the flavors can mesh.

Okay, I have another disclaimer: this is the beginning of the busiest time of year in my field. I worked about 60 hours last week (in the field 8 hours/day, then come home and work on writing an Environmental Impact Report ’til 10pm every night), and that’s why I haven’t been posting real food. I ate both delivered and frozen pizza for dinner last week. Tomorrow morning I’m leaving for California to conduct rare plant surveys (our Sacramento branch is short on botanists right now), and will be gone all week. Home on weekends, rinse and repeat.

I’ll try to get some good stories of road food, but that will probably be the bent I hafta take until May, when I get to come home for more than just weekends. I get a $35 per diem for meals, so I imagine tales of fast food and truck stops will ensue. Being alone in a hotel gives me plenty of time to write, but finding something to write about will be the challenge.