Som Tam Recipe – Thai Papaya Salad

After spending a lovely day with my wife, I decided to invite my in-laws over for a Mother’s Day dinner. Seeing that my father-in-law is Filipino, I decided to make his yummy barbecue recipe, my egg rolls, a thai papaya salad that will rock your socks off, pancit with chicken and shrimp, and curry mussels. Sounds like a lot. It was.
Som Tam Recipe
I started off the family with a dozen or so egg rolls that I wrapped a few weeks back. My father-n-law said these were better than the Filipino ones, so I took that as a serious compliment. I kept the sauce for the egg rolls really simple. White vinegar, chopped garlic, and ground pepper.

Anyway, I am not posting about egg rolls, as I posted that on Seis de Mayo. Because I was making pork barbecue, I wanted to introduce something spicy, sweet, and tangy. Bring on the papaya salad. This has some intense flavors and smells so prepare yourself.

Ingredients include:

  • 1 young papaya (larger in length, green) commonly found in asian markets.
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 1/4 teaspoon shrimp paste (beware of the smell, but move on)
  • 3 TB of nam pla (I use the 3 crab brand)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 red thai peppers (spicy, so adjust to 1, 2, 3, or more)
  • 1 TB sugar
  • 1/2 a lime
  • Asian Green beans (optional)
  • peanuts (optional)

First peel the papaya. Once peeled, shred the papaya until thin strips. Once you have enough for your salad, add garlic, shrimp paste, tomatoes, beans, and thai peppers to a mortar and pound with a wooden pestle (I purchased both mortar and pestle at an asian market for six dollars). Do not pound too hard as you really just want to bring out the juices of the bean and tomatoes.

Add the papaya, fish sauce, peanuts, and sugar into the mortar and begin to use your pestle and a large spoon and begin to toss and mix. Transfer to serving plate and eat with rice, sticky rice, or fork and chopsticks. This dish brings great flavors, maybe not meant for everyone (most people at the table could not handle the intensity of the thai peppers, so adjust to your liking), however is great with barbecue.

Crispy Beef

All I can say about this dish is ‘heavenly’. As previously noted, I tried the Crispy beef at the Cheesecake Factory the other night. With that said, when I love a dish, I attempt to recreate it, and I believe I did just that. It was ridiculous how simple this dish was to make.

I used a carne de asada beef that I purchased from El Rey. I then sliced the beef pretty thin and massaged it in a 1/4 cup of cornstarch and let sit for 10-15 minutes. A simple note, if you never been to El Rey in Milwaukee, WI, go. It is a wonderful place, has two locations, and not only a great place to eat, but to shop for fresh produce and meats.

Once the meat is setting in the cornstarch, heat about 4 cups of canola oil to medium to high heat.

Figuring out the sauce was a bit of a challenge, however it was a bit salty, had ginger, garlic, and soy sauce. Heat a pan with a 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add ginger and garlic and cook for a couple of minutes. Add sliced carrots and fresh green beans. Add water and mix in some brown sugar to build thickness and some sweetness, and cook for a few minutes until you build a sauce. Remove it from the heat. During this time, feel free to chop a couple of scallions, thinly, for garnish and flavor.

The oil should be ready, so add the beef and cook until the edges become dark and crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on some paper towel to drain the the remaining oil from the beef. (I salted the beef at this time for my kids to try as the sauce is pretty powerful). Add remaining beef to the oil, and continue with this process.

Place pan of sauce back on a burner on low to medium heat and add the beef. Throw in the scallions, and cook until warm. Transfer the beef to a dish and serve with rice.

Ingredient breakdown:

* Amount of beef to your desire
* 3 green onions
* 2 TB garlic
* 1TB minced ginger
* 1/2 cup soy sauce
* 3/4 cup brown sugar
* 1/4 cornstarch
* green beans
* sliced carrots
* rice

Enjoy.

Egg Rolls

As much as I wanted to throw down some Mexican recipes on Cinco de Mayo, I could not. My fridge had some tasty leftovers, and furthermore my wife and I had a night out on the town. As Cinco de Mayo passed, my craving for Mexican food (carne de asada, or tinga) turned into the flavors of Asia.

The night out was a great dinner at The Cheesecake Factory, of which I tried the Spicy Crispy Beef, and loved every bite. So on Seis de Mayo, I thought I would make egg rolls, spicy crispy beef, and a take on P.F. Chang’s garlic noodles.

My wife and I love egg rolls. Being part Filipino, she grew up on lumpia shanghai which are basically egg rolls with pork mixture, potato, shrimp, and green beans. These are very tasty, however I wanted to throw my own take on the lumpia.

I began with grinding up my pork butt. I believe the butt was nearly six pounds, of which yielded roughly seventy egg rolls.I use the food grinder which attaches to my Kitchen Aid. I spray the inside of the attachments with Pam cooking spray which makes things come out easier. Once I have the pork mixture, I season with lots of fresh ground pepper, salt, garlic powder, oyster sauce, and fish sauce. I then set this aside and let marinade before mixing in the other ingredients.

  • Six carrots, grated
  • One large onion, thinly sliced
  • Thin vermicelli noodles, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes (3 packets)
  • 2 large baking potatoes, skinned, cubed, and cooked for 25 minutes, drain, and let cool

Once the meat is done marinating, mix in the above ingredients. Add more seasoning if you prefer.

Depending on how many egg rolls you will be wrapping, you will use 1-2 eggs and 1 TB of cornstarch for the sealant on your egg roll wrapper. Pay caution with what type of wrapper you use. I typically purchase the wrappers not are not thick, and are commonly found in the frozen section of your local asian mart.

Egg Roll MixLay the egg roll wrapper with one of the four corners facing you. Generously (depending on how big you want the egg roll) spoon in the mixture and roll over the wrapper and begin to roll, once or twice over. Then brush on the egg mixture, fold in the edges, and finalize the wrap.

Egg Roll MixWhile wrapping, heat a pot of canola oil on medium heat. Once the oil nears 375 degrees, drop an egg roll one at a time into the oil and fry until golden brown. Let cool for a few minutes then eat with your favorite dipping sauce. My recommendations for sauces are the following:

  • Spicy
    • three chopped thai peppers
    • chopped garlic
    • 4TB sugar
    • Juice of 1 lime
    • Fish Sauce
  • Traditional Filipino
    • White Vinegar
    • chopped garlic
    • fresh ground pepper

Asparagus and Goat Cheese Tart

Asparagus and Goat Cheese TartI tried making a simple appetizer for my family and guests a while back. The recipe looked easy enough and yummy at the same time. It included puff pastry dough, goat cheese, pancetta (or bacon), and asparagus. The only time consuming part was cooking the pancetta, and waiting for the appetizer to bake. 🙂 Be careful not to overcook the tart as the edges tend to burn. Keep an eye on it at all times. Overall, a great appetizer to serve.

  • 5 slices bacon or 1/4 lb of pancetta
  • 1 bunch thin to medium-sized aspargus, tough ends removed, then cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 lb. soft goat cheese
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, defrosted
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 large egg yolk mixed with 1/4 tb water

Preheat the oven to 375F. Cook the bacon or pancetta until crisp, then remove onto paper towel. Once cooled, crumble. Drain all but 1TB of the bacon fat. Cook the shallots in the bacon fat until tender, then add the asparagus pieces. Cook the mixture for 5-7 minutes. Remove the mixture from the heat, and add the crumbled bacon or pancetta. Carefully pat the goat cheese onto the puffy pastry dough. Sprinkle the asparagus, shallot, and bacon mixture on top of the goat cheese. Brush the border of the pastry with the egg wash. Cook in the oven for about 25-30 minutes. Let cool and cut into four squares.