The Papaya Salad (also known as Tum Mak Houng) is an authentic dish for Lao people. There are many different styles of Papaya Salad, but in Laos, the key of the recipe is the use fermented fish sauce (Padek) to make its unique flavour, incomparable to the Som Tam in Thailand.
1. Use a mortar and a pestle to pound chili with garlic, shrimp paste, MSG and sugar. Pound until all ingredients are well mixed.
2. Add the shredded papaya with cherry tomatoes, the juice of one squeezed lime, fermented fish sauce (padek) into the mortar and grind all gently by using a pestle and a spoon until everything is combined. Taste and adjust the flavour as you like (more sweet or more sour). Serve with fresh cabbage and rice noodles. Zap!
Tip: the fermented fish sauce (padek) is the most important ingredient, try to find the best one from the market.