Andy Ricker opens his new Pok Pok cookbook with a series of variations on papaya salad. These are the beating heart of his namesake restaurant, providing its inspiration as well as a sweet and sour bridge between the range of complex savory dishes. This particular salad, made with cucumbers instead of papaya, is a cool and refreshing twist. Even better, there's no laborious papaya-shredding involved. The flavors are mostly familiar, but occasional bites are perked up by bits of tiny dried shrimp.
Why I picked this recipe: I was curious how crisp cucumber would pair with the funky, spicy, sour flavors of papaya salad.
What worked: I loved this salad so much that I ate the entire bowl myself, tiny dried shrimp and all.
What didn't: No problems here.
Suggested tweaks: I only have a small mortar and pestle that I usually use for grinding spices. I was able to (mostly) replicate the larger mortar set-up by pounding the first few ingredients in the small mortar, and the transferring everything to a large ceramic bowl to gently pound the cucumber and long beans. You will likely need to trek to an Asian market for the dried shrimp and naam plaa raa.