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Sep 1, 2008 07:28 AM

September COTM “Vietnamese”: Starters, Snacks & Salads

September 2008 Cookbooks of the Month: Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table by Mai Pham and Into the Vietnamese Kitchen by Andrea Nguyen.

Please post your full-length reviews of starter, snack and salad recipes here. Please mention the name of the recipe you are reviewing and the book or author and page number, if possible, as well as any modifications you made to the recipe. This thread includes:


Chapter 3: Sweet and Sour and the Yellow Moon (Salads and Savory Snacks)


Chapter 1: Gifts to the Mouth (Starters, Snacks and Special-Event Salads)

I think there are salads in some other chapters in both books - my suggestion would be to go ahead and post those on the other thread that includes the chapter the salad is in, and if you feel so inclined, post a link to it here.

A reminder that the verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

Thanks for participating!

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  1. Stuffed Squid with Ginger-Lime Dipping Sauce (ItVK page 41)

    Oh, man! These are just so good I hardly know where to start.

    I guess with the recipe, which I cut in half but otherwise made as directed. You stuff the squid with a filling of chopped squid, onion, ground pork, shiitake mushrooms, cellophane noodles, minced ginger, fish sauce, black pepper and sugar and then pan-fry them. It was fussier to prepare than I had expected from reading it mainly because the squid tentacles aren’t easy to “finely chop” (time to have the knives sharpened?) and cutting soaked cellophane noodles into quarter-inch lengths, if one actually tried to do it, would be tedious beyond belief.. She suggests soaking the dried shiitakes for much longer (at least 8 hours) than any other recipe I’ve ever seen, so you do need to plan ahead. And she warns you that “the initial searing of the squid can be fairly dramatic, so you may want to have a splatter guard handy.” Yep. Right. Even with the splatter guard my stove looked as though I’d been cooking fried chicken for a marching band (wear an apron!).

    She says you can serve it warm or at room temp. Because it needs almost constant monitoring for the ten minutes it’s frying, it’s not a dish I’d be likely to make for guests at the last minute if I wanted to serve it warm. But that’s how I ate it, it was just outstanding. Good squid flavor, wonderful balance of texture and flavors, and really pretty to boot. That Ginger-Lime Sauce is just heavenly. I’m sure I’ll be making it again to serve with simply grilled fish dishes. I have two stuffed squid left over and will be eager to see how/if they rewarm, because I’m definitely making this again and I’m definitely making it for company.

    Some notes: (1) I cut the “wings” off the squid because I thought they’d cook better and look prettier if I did so. She doesn’t say to do it, but I’d definitely do it that way again. (2) Slice cooked squid with a serrated knife. (3) The Ginger-Lime Sauce is simply marvelous, but mine was a bit heavy on the lime and light on the fish sauce. Next time I’ll taste with more discretion now that I know what I’m looking for. (4) I made half the filling but was only able to fill 4, not 6, squid, so either my squid were too large or my filling measurements were off. I suspect the former. Didn’t seem to make any difference, but could be important if I had expected a specific quantity to serve guests. (4) I had read Candy’s report here so tried dusting two of the four squid with Wondra. Must say, once they were cooked I couldn’t tell which ones had been coated and which hadn’t so I won’t bother next time. Also referring to that message, I didn’t find the measurement for the cellophane noodles to be off. I guess different noodles weigh different amounts. For me, half the weight called for seemed about right.

    7 Replies
    1. re: JoanN

      This sounds quite similar to a "Squid Sausage" recipe I posted in this thread:

      I wonder if lightly steaming the squid first, then lightly frying would lessen the "dramatic" frying effect.

      1. re: JoanN

        Coming back to report on the leftovers.

        I had two stuffed and cooked but unsliced squid in the fridge. I brought them more-or-less to room temp and then heated them, about 6 minutes per side, in a preheated 400F or so oven. They were still wonderfully tasty (made a fresh batch of dipping sauce), but the outer squid rings toughened up quite a bit. Just fine for me, but I wouldn’t want to serve them that way to guests, so I’ll either have to plan the meal so I can cook them more or less last minute or just serve them at room temperature, which she suggests as an option.

        1. re: JoanN

          My turn to make these and we both thought they were terrific. My plan was to make half a batch, but a full batch of filling. I bought 6 cleaned squid, but realized that I'd forgotten to get any tentacles. So I chopped up about one and a half of the 'bodies' and added them to the stuffing. I used up almost all of the full batch of stuffing, stuffing 4 squid. I had trouble getting mine nicely brown all over - I think the toothpicks got in my way, and next time I'd use the full amount of oil called for, which might help.

          Thanks for the tip about using the serrated knife. I think these would also be nice served whole as a main course.

          1. re: MMRuth

            Oh, that looks really good, MMRuth and JoanN! I haven't made that recipe myself but my boss has made it following Andrea's recipe, and it's delicious! He had some leftover filling so made her suggested pork omelet which was good too. That dipping sauce is wonderful for a ginger lover like me.

            I'm planning to make the corn and coconut fritters tonight...

            1. re: Carb Lover

              I made the pork omelet for lunch yesterday - forgot that I need to post on it.

            2. re: MMRuth

              Glad you liked these as much as I, MMR. I'm looking for an excuse to make them again. I'm curious, though. Your filling looks much finer than mine. Did you chop by hand or machine? Not sure which texture I'd prefer, but may try machine next time and see if there's much of a difference.

              1. re: JoanN

                I bought ground pork at Citarella. Oh - and I snipped the noodles with scissors - not quite 1/4 inch, but I tried! And I didn't soak my shitakes for 8 hours. Just not that organized.

                Also, I discovered that one can just pull the squid wings off - them seem attached to one another and the 'body' with a thin membrane.

          2. From Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table:

            Vietnamese Sandwich p. 94, but what I make isn't a banh mi thit because of substitutions. I'm allergic to pork, so make the pate with ground turkey thigh, adding a step to grind it in the food processor once cooked. I like the smoother texture on the sandwich. I also sub chicken breast or thigh for the pork shoulder and don't use sausage, so this isn't the classic sandwich this recipe would make. Some people would say it's no comparison, but I'd never know! We eat this several times in the summers when it's hot out, as it's filling but the spices in the pate, pickled vegetables, cilantro, and chiles make it refreshing. It's important to get the right kind of baguette, not something bready in baguette form. You want a soft interior and thin, shattering crust for the best sandwich.

            Hanoi Shrimp Cakes (Banh Tom) p. 99 are absolutely delicious! I daresay this recipe is better than what's served at many of the restaurants here, more delicate and crispy. Highly recommended.

            17 Replies
            1. re: amyzan

              I have made those shrimp cakes a number of times - they are a HUGE hit with guests.

              1. re: mirage

                me three on the Hanoi Shrimp Cakes - and they are nearly as good with all sweet potato instead of shrimp/s.po. as in the recipe

              2. re: amyzan

                Hmm, this is great to know. I don't eat pork so have always missed out on banh mi (much to my dismay). I may well try these using your method.

                1. re: LulusMom

                  In NYC, I've had wonderful banh mi with fried sardines - you might want to try that as well.

                  1. re: LulusMom

                    In San Jose, the banh mi shops had veg, chicken, tofu, egg, tuna, and probably something I'm forgetting of non-pork options.

                  2. re: amyzan

                    Re: subbing for pork.

                    Mai Pham has a "banh mi" recipe using grilled five-spice chicken. Traditional, schmaditional, it's darn tasty:


                    1. re: amyzan

                      What is great about banh mi, is you can fill with anything you want. And you can try additional toppings-

                      -Mayo or Kewpie (Japanese) Mayo
                      -Hoisin sauce
                      -Splash of soy sauce (some places finish with some sort of savory sauce)
                      -Fried shallots
                      -Ground peanuts
                      -Grilled onion
                      -Cucumber (I can't remember if she has cuke on hers or not)

                      Another thing is that when I make banh mi, I heat up the baguettes on the grill to get them a little crusty, and then after I slice open to add the fillings, I scoop out a little bit of the bread. Many restaurants will do this and it can balance out the sandwich a little bit, and would help if the bread is too bready.

                      1. re: P. Punko

                        I made an off the cuff banh mi yesterday, cutting them up into maybe one inch cross sections as something to nibble on before dinner. I didn't have time to haul everything stored in the oven out of the oven to heat them up, but I did remove a little of the insides thanks to your tip. Spread both sides with mayonnaise, spread one side with sambal oelek (which is what I had handy), added a slice of pate de campagne, some julienned cucumbers, shredded carrots marinated in rice vinegar and a little sugar, and a couple of cilantro leaves. They were quite tasty - not nearly as good as "real" banh mi that I've eaten, but a nice introduction to the Vietnamese dinner.

                        1. re: MMRuth

                          I think one of the things that makes them tastier at the places is that some places use special mayo- like Kewpie mayo and the MSG that it has. If I marinate the meat a little bit saltier, I like a little bit of hoisin on the homemade banh mi, or also when I used sliced flank steak. Tri-tip will also work. Just a good way to serve almost anything on a crusty/fluffy french roll.

                          1. re: MMRuth

                            I made these again for a dinner party, but this time made my own chicken liver pate from the Nguyen book. I also made the marinated daikon and carrots, using a combination of the recipes in the two books, but went with less sugar per Pham. I didn't take a picture at the party, but made them again for dinner last night, and made an 'canape' sized one for viewing pleasure. When I made them last night, I added some leftover prosciutto, as well as cucumbers from the Pham cucumber salad that were leftover. Couldn't find the Kewpie mayo at the Vietnamese market.

                            I did find that it was easier to slice the little ones if I put the toothpick in first, then sliced.

                            1. re: MMRuth

                              Just for referance: Kanman store on Canal St, in Chinatown sells Kewpie mayo.

                              1. re: cpw

                                Ah, thanks - didn't check there.

                                1. re: MMRuth

                                  Kewpie is Japanese -- all the midtown/upper east side Japanese grocery stores have it.
                                  Although I don't miss it on bahn mi, truth be told.

                        2. re: amyzan

                          I made the shrimp cakes last night as well and we both loved them. I did have some technical issues - I don't have, I realized, a wide enough flat metal spatula w/o wholes, so I used a very shallow large metal cooking spoon instead, and half filled a 1/4 cup measuring cup with the batter, placed it on the spoon, flattened it with the back of the cup and then placed in the oil. What I found, after a couple of cakes, was that some of the residue of the batter cooked onto the spoon, so it became harder and harder to get the cakes into the oil. I served it with the dipping sauce and the herb salad. I generally have an aversion to sweet potatoes (probably due to the Thanksgiving candied yam dish) but loved them here. I did think that my match sticks were too long so I cut them in half. I made half the dish with no problems.

                          1. re: amyzan

                            Finally got around to trying my hand at banh mi last night (but with no pork). I have had this on my list of things to try for so long, and then when I read Wednesday's NYTimes food section (which had a feature article on banh mi) I knew it was time to try. From the bottom up I put: duck pate, cilantro, pickled carrot (didn't have any daikon around the house, so just used carrots), roast chicken pieces, fish sauce, jalapenos, cucumber, sriracha mayo. Thoroughly enjoyed them. Thanks to everyone back in Sept. for encouraging me to try them even without eating pork.

                            1. re: LulusMom

                              Duck pate - that is such a great idea. Glad you liked them.

                          2. Spicy Cabbage and Chicken Salad, IVK/Nguyen, Pg. 50

                            An interesting introduction to my journey into Vietnamese cuisine, and I liked it very much:

                            A salad of a small head of regular green cabbage, quartered, cored and sliced in v. thin ribbons; grated carrots; chopped cilantro; a small red onion which was marinated in white vinegar for 15 minutes then drained and added to the veggies. Two boneless chicken breasts are poached in water with a pinch of salt for a few minutes then taken off heat and allowed to sit, covered, for 20 minutes.
                            The dressing is:
                            2 Thai chilies, chopped
                            1 clove garlic, chopped
                            1/2 tsp sugar & a pinch of salt
                            3 T fish sauce
                            6 T Japanese rice vinegar

                            Because the cabbage I had was quite large I used half a head and the same with the onion. The fish sauce, I now realize, should have been Viet Huong's Three Crabs but I only had Golden Boy so I used that..... off to the Asian market again today. We had twice the amount of chicken but it shredded nicely and took on the flavor of the dressing beautifully. All in all this salad had a very pleasant taste and the aroma was wonderful..... not very salty at all but that may be because the fish sauce was light tasting. In future I think I'll try a variety of greens using the same dressing. She does say there's a lot of leeway for variety here. Thank goodness!

                            As Nugyen suggests, I served the salad with the Basic Rice Soup on page 67.

                            28 Replies
                            1. re: Gio

                              I love Vietnamese salads, especially if you use green papaya instead of cabbage. I find the sweet/sour/salty/hot combination addictive!

                              1. re: greedygirl

                                Thank you for that suggestion. I'd never think of that myself.

                                1. re: Gio

                                  Gio, Green papaya salad is a traditional dish throughout SE Asia. Some Vietnamese versions are very similar to the traditional cabbage salad you made (which is awesome and refreshing), some have a different sweet and spicy dressing and are topped with beef jerky and sometimes liver. A Thai version, Som Tum, will be very spicy and has dried shrimp among other things. Lao versions can be very spicy and salty. There are lots of regional differences.

                              2. re: Gio

                                I picked up some Three Crabs fish sauce recently without looking at the label, since it was recommended. Turns out it has added fructose and hydrolized wheat protein. If hydrolized soy protein is a no-no in soy sauce - the reason we all go for naturally brewed - is there any reason I should accept hydrolysis in fish sauce? Some googling turned up a comment from Thai cookbook author Kasma Loha-unchit on her website in an article about fish sauce:

                                "I do not personally recommend Three Crabs Brand, which several Asian cookbook authors recommend, mainly because it does not appear to be a naturally fermented fish sauce but is, rather, a flavor-enhanced, processed food product. According to the label, hydrolyzed wheat protein and fructose are among the ingredients – both are additives that have not been adequately time-tested for their potential long-term effects on health. Their inclusion suggests that the sauce is made through the process of hydrolysis, whereby a catalyst (sometimes from chemical sources) is added to hasten fermentation, allowing the company to produce large quantities of the product in shorter periods of time than would be required in natural fermentation."

                                She goes on. See this page and scroll down to the graphic of the Golden Boy baby:

                                Golden Boy is one of the sauces recommended by both Kasma Loha-unchit and Nguyen.

                                1. re: andrewm

                                  Gosh - now I feel like an idiot! I have and have used Golden Boy which I like but DH came home yesterday with Three Crabs. Without even reading the label I opened the bottle, so now I can't return it. And I was so worried about using Maggi......

                                  1. re: Gio

                                    A lot of Asian cooking uses ingredients with flavor enhancers. Maggi, Golden Mountain, MSG, etc. Fish sauce and sauce are naturally flavor enhancers. Let us know what types of differences in flavors you detect.

                                    1. re: P. Punko

                                      Thank you P.Punko! This is all so new to me. I love what you had to say about the salad. I could eat salad forever.... in any form. I just have to translate it from the Italian to the Far East.

                                      1. re: Gio

                                        You are very welcome!

                                        This post has a lot of info about the Laotian and Thai styles of papaya salad:


                                        Thai cooking has wonderful salads as well, and they are very flavorful even if you do not make them spicy.

                                          1. re: alkapal

                                            Me too - love it.

                                            I reckon you could make a nice Vietnamese salad using shredded green papaya, daikon and carrot. I've got a special tool I bought in 'Nam for shredding the vegetables into nice long strips but it's not really necessary.

                                            One of the first things we ate when we arrived in Ho Chi Minh City was a Vietnamese beef salad, and it was one of the best meals of our trip.

                                            1. re: greedygirl

                                              I have a green papaya sitting my pantry as I type, so tonight I shall make The GP Salad! There's a recipe in the Nguyen book.

                                              P.Punko: Thanks for that link to the Chowhound page....very helpful.

                                              Alkapal: That Som Tum recipe looks wonderful.... gotta get some tamarind paste for some of the Vietnamese recipes and when I do I'll be making that salad.

                                              1. re: Gio

                                                well, i hope your papaya is green (unripe) inside.

                                                i've found it is much easier to buy the already-shredded green papaya in the asian refrigerated produce section. not cheap, but worth it. usually makes a whomper batch!!

                                                1. re: alkapal

                                                  I have no idea about what's inside...... what if it isn't green inside?
                                                  Thanks for the suggestion about the already-shredded papaya. I'll be looking for that next time.

                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                    well, then it'll be yellow or orange or red ripe papaya, and soft -- not crisp.

                                                    cf. with green papaya:

                                                    for ripe papaya, remove seeds, cube it and sprinkle with lime juice and salt for a refreshing snack! mr. alka and my BIL love ripe papaya; me, not so much. i think it has a little soapy mouth-feel.

                                                    1. re: alkapal

                                                      I'm not that keen on ripe papaya either, although it's better with lime. It tastes slightly metallic to me.

                                                      1. re: alkapal

                                                        I have that information from Nguyen's blog, too..... plus we took a photo of green papaya to the market with us. I'm making the salad tonight with the green papaya and we'll just have to see how it turns out. My report above was for the salad I made a few days ago with green cabbage. It was delicious.

                                                      2. re: Gio

                                                        I'm not sure that green papaya isn't a different variety to the yellow/orange ones. I don't think a green papaya ever ripens, it just goes bad.

                                                      3. re: alkapal

                                                        In the markets in Vietnam I noticed that they had ready shredded everything - I wish they had that here! Green papaya is very expensive generally, I find, but totally worth it.

                                                    2. re: greedygirl

                                                      greedygirl, i've even used green cabbage (or even jicama) when i've gotten the craving and green papaya wasn't available.

                                                      1. re: alkapal

                                                        I much prefer green papaya though (and you can't get jicama here).

                                                      2. re: greedygirl

                                                        Oh yay! I'm making a beef salad from the Pham book next week!

                                              2. re: andrewm

                                                Re: andrewm's post about Three Crabs:

                                                Has anybody checked the label of a recently purchased 3 Crabs bottle? I'm very impressed by the article and don't want to buy anything with fructose or hydroginated anything. The article, however, was written 10 years ago and maybe 3 Crabs has gotten wise since then?

                                                1. re: oakjoan

                                                  I have a bottle that I bought w/in the last year or so, and it contains fructose and hydrolized wheat protein.

                                              3. re: Gio

                                                I'm thinking I might try this with what I have referred to as the "magic" chicken -- one of those rotisserie chickens. I usually make a chicken salad from at least part when I get one, and this would be great. Also for leftover roasted chicken -- just shred it up.

                                                1. re: Gio

                                                  Spicy Cabbage and Chicken Salad, IVK/Nguyen, Pg. 50

                                                  I think this is the 6th or 7th time I've made this scrumptious salad but because last night I chopped mixed greens instead of using napa cabbage I thought I'd briefly report it. A few things were done differently but really didn't change the outcome at all. I shaved the carrot instead of grating it, used Tamari instead of soy sauce, marinated the red onion longer than the recommended 15 minutes (only because I made the dressing while the onions were bathing), and used 3 chicken breasts and added a bay leaf to the water for the poaching liquid (so the resulting broth would have a little more flavor). The greens I used were about a quarter head red leaf lettuce, half a small Bibb lettuce and a handful of cultivated arugula.

                                                  This little salad is absolutely addictive for me. The dressing is mesmerizing. Instead of shredding the chicken I chose to slice the breasts on the bias and mix them into the dressing so the pieces were infused with the sauce. Then the other vegetables were tossed with the chicken and dressing. It was just Great. The salad was served with an Indonesian fried rice from the Mighty Spice cookbook by John Gregory-Smith: Nasi Goreng. The broth was stored for future use.

                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                    I noticed your post on the Mighty Spice thread and wanted to read more about this salad. Thanks for posting this about the small changes. Somehow I seem to have missed this during Vietnamese month (probably the one that changed my taste/cooking the most), and will now put it on my must make list. There is something totally addictive about Vietnamese flavors (at least for me).

                                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                                      Oh LLM you will love it, I'm sure. We have decided we like Vietnamese flavors immensely and have made a promise to cook from these two books more frequently...

                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                        Well you've certainly bumped me in that direction too. I remember saying at the beginning of Vietnamese month "how many times a week can a person eat the same flavors?" and then wanting to cook from the books every single day.

                                                2. Made the Baked Shrimp Toasts - Into the Vietnamese Kitchen, p. 27 - today.

                                                  My friends and I loved them. I bought Pepperidge Farm "Very Thin" bread and used 16 slices, with one triangle left over, instead of the 12 called for. The recipe states that the paste covering the bread should be as thick as the bread. I don't think I covered it that thinly and still required the extra slices. Which is fine - I'm cooking the extras up right now for a snack for myself :-)

                                                  They cooked a little longer (about 15 minutes instead of 10-12) but I definitely didn't overcook them.

                                                  Edited to say the few leftovers I just cooked took about 12 minutes - I must have spread them thinner, though I hadn't thought so. So definitely watch them.
                                                  This recipe is an absolute keeper!

                                                  8 Replies
                                                  1. re: mirage

                                                    I finally got the ItVK book today from the library, and right away these caught my interest. Glad to hear they were such a hit. They're going straight on my "to make" list.

                                                    1. re: mirage

                                                      I made these on Friday night. I couldn't get the PF 'very thin" bread, so I sliced some regular slices in half, which I think did make them a bit thin, and I think they were a little over baked, even though I took them out earlier than called for when toasting. I did find spreading the shrimp paste on to the little triangles a bit finicky and tiresome, and next time I think I'd just cut the 'very thin' slices in half, and make them that way. Really delicious bites!

                                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                                        Did you find they needed a bit more seasoning? We thought a little more fish sauce was good.

                                                        1. re: Candy

                                                          I did think, now that you mention it, that they could have use a little more salt - and so I suppose fish sauce would have done the same thing.

                                                          1. re: MMRuth

                                                            You're up late - watching the debate?

                                                            1. re: greedygirl

                                                              Watched at some friends' house - combined with dog play date a bit of a circus. And you are up early! You should try making these shrimp things - but I wouldn't bother with the triangles of bread - just cut "decrusted" pieces in half - I think it must be much easier that way.

                                                              1. re: MMRuth

                                                                Working a night and watched the debate as well. I'd much rather be at home making shrimp toasts but I'd vote for Joe if I could.

                                                      2. re: mirage

                                                        Old thread but I need to bump it and ask a question please. My daughter and SIL are coming for the weekend. I have enough broth for pho to make four not huge portions so was trying to think of something to serve with or before. My sole experience with Viet cooking is banh mi once and pho twice. These shrimp toasts sound great and easy to prep ahead of time (the topping anyway). Would this make an acceptable meal? BTW, they're tiny birds (the 'kids) with practically no body fat so I don't have to serve a gigantic amount of food. TIA.

                                                      3. Green Papaya Salad, IVK/Nguyen, Pg. 48

                                                        The GPS I made last night vaguely followed Ms. Nguyen's recipe, namely the dressing and most of the ingredients. The main reason for the salad was to taste, for the first time, a green papaya.

                                                        The dressing is pretty much like many others: lime juice, fish sauce (I used 3 Crabs this time), sugar, garlic, Thai chilies. I must say, I found no discernible difference between 3 Crabs and Golden Boy. I was expecting a much more pronounced salty flavor; of course I did not add additional salt. But overall, the dressing was flavorful...spicy and sour.

                                                        Now for the salad. Omitting the shrimp and the bit of pork, the ingredients I used were shaved carrot, cored and seeded tomatoes, chopped cilantro, and a minced jalapeño from the garden for good measure. When I sliced into the papaya, the flesh was firm and a lovely shade of ivory with light green overtones. I loved all the seeds that came spilling out. I wonder if they can be dried and planted in Spring. I'll have to see about that. The papaya was sliced from stem to stern in three sections. One section was shredded, one was shaved into thin strips and one was diced. This made an enormous salad. The dressing was poured over all and tossed several times while we cooked the other components of the meal. How did we like it? DH said it was blah. I kinda liked it but to my palate, the earlier Green Cabbage Salad was tastier. The papaya did not seem to absorb much flavor from the very flavorful dressing. Perhaps I'll slide it into the rotation including the shrimp and pork to see if that makes a difference.

                                                        We served this with grilled marinated turkey breast and steamed green beans, neither of which recipe came from the book - well, the beans Were bought at an Asian market.....

                                                        8 Replies
                                                        1. re: Gio

                                                          gio, i don't have the cookbook, but try that recipe for som tum i linked to in my post (the dried shrimp give it a kick, and i think there is garlic, too). too bad yours was blah. if the dressing alone wasn't WOWI LOVE THAT, then the green papaya isn't going to really do much of anything, imo. it's always about that sweetish, lime-y salty slightly seaside umami punch. can you tell i'm in love with som tum?

                                                          btw, the papaya seeds can be made into a salad dressing, according to one of those recent links i provided (from the vegan website)....

                                                          1. re: alkapal

                                                            Thanks alkapal! Yes, the dressing was wonderful. I guess I'll have to make it again using the shrimp. Perhaps Mr. G won't notice. HAH!

                                                            1. re: alkapal

                                                              I agree that dried shrimp are a nice addition to papaya salad. So is the beef jerky Nguyen mentions in the notes. I love this salad but for me it is all about making it spicy with both fresh and dried chiles, and lots of herbs too.
                                                              We have a place here in SF that serves this with slivers of fried tofu, it is delicious! Chopped, roasted peanuts are nice too.

                                                              1. re: rabaja

                                                                at my thai place, they also serve it with peanuts crushed on top. i've ground in a mortar and pestle the dried shrimp, but my fave rest just smashes to bruise the little shrimps.

                                                                i like eating the som tum with my fave fresh rice noodles "drunken noodles" -- nirvana! ;-D

                                                                1. re: rabaja

                                                                  rabaja: Where in SF is the place that serves the green papaya salad with fried tofu slivers?

                                                                  1. re: oakjoan

                                                                    Out the Door in the Ferry Building.
                                                                    It's delicious if you can deal with the crowds.
                                                                    I usually get it and run...out the door!

                                                              2. re: Gio

                                                                I haven't had Vietnamese style papaya salad but have had the Thai versions. In general, Vietnamese food tends to be more subtle than Thai food. So that may explain your "blah" comment.

                                                                Papaya salad is also very personal. So if you weren't happy with the salt content, you could add more fish sauce. I also find that using a mortar and pestle with your papaya salad (as in the video that alkapal linked to) helps to infuse the flavor into the papaya as opposed to just merely dressing the papaya shreds. If you don't have a mortar and pestle, I would just have the papaya sit in the dressing for a bit -- kind of different from dressing Western style salads last minute. I've also added salted crab to mine -- adds a wonderful dimension of umami goodness!

                                                                1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                  Thank you Miss Needle. I do have a mortar & pestle but didn't think to use it for this salad.....I guess I just have to experiment ..... and I value everyone's advice. Many thanks to all!