what: Spicy Papaya Salad with Thai Sausage
where: Street Thai Food, Saturdays at Soda City Market (9 a.m.-1 p.m., 1300-1600 Main St.), facebook.com/streetthaifood
Green papaya salad is one of the great salads that don’t get enough attention in the world. It’s crunchy. It’s fresh. It’s got big, bold flavors. And for non-salad eaters, it is almost always eaten with meat.
At its core, the salad revolves around sliced green papaya that’s cut into thin strips. Unlike typical papaya, which is sweet and vibrant orange like a cantaloupe, green papaya is firm and has a delicate taste and absorbs flavor well.
The sliced papaya is tossed into a bright sauce made of pounded chilis, limes, fish sauce, and sugar that’s built to play with all of your senses. A specialty in Southeast Asia, it’s a dish that can be simple or extravagant — depending on the amount of ingredients that you have — thanks to its immense flexibility. Additional vegetables, different cuts of grilled meat and varying herbs can all come into play to bulk up the salad and create a more robust combination.
Mobile newcomer Street Thai Food, run by some of the family members behind Bodhi Thai Dining in Lexington, offers a humble version of the salad. Papaya, carrots, cherry tomatoes and the signature sharp dressing — that’s it, that’s the salad, and frankly it’s a stunner. Bright, citrusy and sweet, it goes well with the pop of the Thai chilis that are chopped in.
A snappy, herby Thai sausage is served with the salad. Fresh-fried to life right before serving, it offers a pop of sweetness and savoriness that brings everything together.
Relatively new to Soda City as of late 2019, Street Thai Food offers fast, fun fare — from Pad Thai to pork belly — at a high quality and great price.