|Tum maak houng is pounded in a mortar and pestle to meld all its flavors.|
How hot is hot? Thi uses a handful of hot chili peppers! Really, she does. Her tum maak houng is very hot, salty, sour and sweet, all in perfect balance. Plenty of sticky rice helps tame the heat for those less initiated. As much as I enjoy those strong assertive flavors, when I make it for friends, I tone it way down, to only one or two hot peppers. Most of them can't handle even that much heat. But when I make it for myself and my husband, I'll add as many as five, hot enough to be respectable but not too hot that I can't eat it with abandon. The debate over who makes the best tum maak houng will never end but one thing is certain, we can't live without it. It's a national addiction.
Green papaya salad is simplicity itself needing only a handful of ingredients. Here's how I make it, starting with an unripe papaya...
Peel the papaya...
...shred the papaya. The shredding tool is quite handy, look for it at Asian markets, or you can use the coarse side of a box grater. You're looking for long thin strands.
Add 3 to 4 cups shredded papaya, 1 shredded carrot, 1 to 1 1/2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, 3 tablespoons fish sauce, 1 teaspoon shrimp paste, 2 to 3 tablespoons sugar and juice of half to a whole lime. Pound to bruise and soften the papaya, thoroughly mix everything together and taste. Adjust the seasoning to your own perfect balance of hot, salty, sour and sweet. And wake up your taste buds!
Tum maak houng with kiep moo and sticky rice, Lao food at its best!
More Lao food:
Lao food blogs I follow:
- Sao Darly Darly adores tum maak houng, she can hardly go a day without it.
- Laocook Chef Vienne elevates Lao food to haute cuisine.