Easy spicy Thai chicken salad

Many people who love Thai food hesitate to make it at home. We have many simple-to-make Thai recipes in our archives; this is one of the easiest and most popular. After you stock up on a few Thai pantry basics such as fish sauce, tamarind sauce, and dried shrimp, Thai cooking is easy and fun.

This salad, also called Som Tom or Som Tum, is a Thai classic and perfect this fall when green beans are plentiful.  If you cannot easily find a green papaya or do not like it, double the green beans – it will taste fine.
If you add a half-cup of cooked chicken, (I use BBQ chicken from the store) or grilled shrimp or scallops to this salad, it will serve two or even three people as a tasty warm-weather meal.
Top and tail 1 cup of green beans, and steam them until they are cooked but still crisp (about three minutes). Then rinse them in cold water to keep the green colour. You can also microwave for 3 minutes, covered with a damp paper towel.
½ cup of grape tomatoes washed and halved
½ cup thinly sliced sweet onion or green onion
1 thinly sliced carrot, peeled
1 handful of Thai or regular basil
1 handful of peanuts to top the salad
½ cup dried shrimp (soak in water )
For a lunch or dinner salad, add ½ cup of cooked shredded chicken, or ½ cup grilled shrimp or scallops per person.
1 green papaya, julienned on a mandolin, or buy it already julienned or cut into long thin strips with a sharp knife. There is a big stone in the middle of a papaya. And the fruit’s tough peel is hard to remove, so use a peeler.
Make this at least one hour in advance to blend the flavours:
2 tsp. fish sauce (I like 3 Crab brand)
Juice from 2 to 3 limes – it depends on how juicy they are.
1 pkg. Splenda or 1 tbsp. white, brown, or palm sugar (palm is Thai)
1-2 thinly sliced bird chilies, no seeds
1 tsp. spicy or regular sesame oil
To serve, mix all the vegetables together with the dried shrimp, the chicken or seafood, and toss with the dressing.   Garnish with peanuts.