Sharp, hot, sweet and salty, this salad is extremely refreshing. Serve with grilled fish or warm rice laced with coconut cream.
For the nahm jim
1 clove of garlic, peeled
1 knob of galangal, peeled, roughly chopped
3 coriander roots, scraped and cleaned
2 red bird's eye chillies, seeded
60g/21/2oz palm sugar, crushed
The juice of 2 limes
100ml/31/2fl oz fish sauce
For the salad
100g/31/2oz vermicelli rice noodles
1 green papaya, peeled
1 small bunch of Thai basil
2 small cucumbers, sliced in half lengthwise, seeds scooped out and cut on the bias
2 carrots, peeled and sliced into fine matchsticks
Pound the garlic, galangal, coriander roots and chillies with a pestle and mortar until you have a smooth paste. Add the palm sugar and pound once more, then stir in the lime juice and fish sauce. To retain its vibrancy, this dressing should be made as close to serving as possible. Set aside.
Gently separate the rice noodles using your hands and place in a bowl of warm (not boiling) water for 20 minutes or until soft but not falling apart. Using a vegetable peeler, slice the green papaya into long, fine strips and place in a bowl. Add the basil, soaked noodles, cucumber and carrots, spoon over the nahm jim, toss together gently and serve straight away.