So, we have this realtor. And I suppose she’s more than a realtor at this point. She found us our first family home, then guided us to the purchase of our second family home all the while selling the original (in a day). Yep, she’s that good. Well that, and the home had something to do with it. That’s what happens when you gut a home with zero intention of ever reselling it. (Read: we are crazy).
Anyway, her effort could not have been more impressive. When it comes down to it, a realtor should be working, hard, for your family. Your home listing is a reflection of your realtor, and she could not have taken more pride in ours. Bringing in the best stagers (I may have had a slight temper tantrum over this) and the best photographers and giving you the best realistic advice. It may not be what we wanted to hear, at times, but Mike and I understood what we had put in the home would not exactly match what we would get out of it. So goes real estate these days.
Throughout all this she took our calls day and night, showed up for extra showings, dealt with my general emotional insanity over selling my home, and fought tooth and nail for every single dollar for us not only in selling our home but in purchasing as well.
When all was said and done and we had closed and moved in she whizzed on by in her beautiful car (she does her job well) and dropped over this homemade Vietnamese papaya salad. While still exhausted from the moving and hauling and unpacking absolutely nothing, nothing, looked better to me than a bowl of this stuff. It’s light, it’s healthy, it’s satisfying with flavors of mint and crisp fruit and shrimp. Simply put, it’s beautiful. And I inhaled it.
We spent some time in my kitchen recently as she walked me through the recipe so now I get to pass along to you. A gift really. I’ve said it many times: if I had to pick one recipe to eat for the rest of my life it would be this recipe. It’s a bit involved, only due to some of the ingredients being high maintenance. Locals? I’m hoping I can get Heinens on board with shredding green papayas for us. I will keep you posted. In the meantime, enjoy the recipe below. I promise it’s worth any and all effort.
Oh, and I must mention who this magical realtor that makes homemade Vietnamese food and buys your kids a ping pong table is. You can read more about her, right here. Obviously, she comes highly recommended from our family. Thank you, Van Ann!
Vietnamese Papaya Salad
Ingredients for salad:
3 lbs green papaya, shredded thinly (have a grocer do this for you – must be green papayas!)
3 TBS condensed vinegar mixed with 2 TBS sugar
2 heads of garlic, peeled, and minced
Canola oil, about 2 tsp
couple handfuls match stick carrots
1 lbs cooked peeled and deveined shrimp (tails removed and halved lengthwise)
shredded rotisserie chicken breast (optional but oh so delicious!)
sprigs of fresh herbs: mint, cilantro, basil all work (Rau Ram is the special Vietnamese coriander herb that makes this dish authentic, but it can be hard to find)
few handfuls of roasted peanuts, crushed, for topping
onion straws, for topping (Van Ann loves the Trader Joes brand best but those are seasonal so any will do)
Cherry tomatoes, halved, for topping
Ingredients for dressing: (Also known as Nuoc Mam Pha or mixed fish sauce)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup fish sauce
3 cloves minced garlic
juice from 3 juicy limes
chili garlic sauce, to taste
Directions for salad:
Have your papaya shredded and leave in a large bowl. Mix about 3 TBS of the concentrated vinegar with 2 TBS sugar and mix well. Pour over the papaya and mix well – this is to help draw out some of the liquid that will gather in the bottom of the bowl. Before continuing with recipe, remove liquid. You want your papaya as crisp and fresh as possible and not to get watery.
Take all your minced garlic and saute over medium low heat in canola oil until soft and fragrant. This color should be light brown near the end, will take about 10 minutes, watch so it doesn’t burn. Set aside to cool.
Now you assemble the salad! Pour the cooked garlic with the canola oil into the bowl along with your carrots, chicken (if using), shrimp, fresh herbs (she likes to leave them ‘chunky’ so you can really see and taste the herbs). Mix together with your hands until everything is even.
Directions for dressing:
Boil sugar in water to dissolve. Must cool completely (Van Ann does this part the night before to ensure this). Add in fish sauce and lime juice and minced garlic and chili garlic sauce, to taste.
Plate your papaya salad. Top with some crushed roasted peanuts and onion straws. Pour some of the special dressing on top. Garnish with some halved cherry tomatoes, if you have.