Waterfall Salad (Nam Tok)
1 cup tamarind paste
or ½ cup tamarind concentrate
4 cup palm sugar
about 2 discs OR 5 Tbsp brown sugar dissolved in 3 T water
7 each garlic cloves
4 tbsp dried shrimp
5 each Thai green chilis
or ½ jalapeno, chopped
zest of 2 limes
juice of 5 limes
1/2 cup fish sauce
toasted ground rice powder
1 each green papaya
julienned yielding about 5 cups packed
2 each carrots
1 each cucumber
halved and sliced
1 head butter lettuce
washed, spun dry and cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 bunch Thai basil leaves
leaves picked
1/2 bunch mint
leaves picked
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes
1/2 lb bean sprouts
1/2 bunch scallions
thinly sliced
1/2 cup roasted peanuts
  • Large mortar and pestle
  • Mandoline with medium-sized teeth (or box grater or food processor with shredder attachment)
  • Chinois or mesh strainer
  • mixing bowls
  • Citrus juicer
For the Dressing
In a small sauce pan over medium heat, dissolve tamarind paste in 1 C water until it breaks down, about 10 minutes. Pass the tamarind mixture through a chinois or fine mesh strainer, reserving ½ C of the liquid. (Alternatively, use ½ C prepared tamarind concentrate.)
In a small sauce pot, melt the palm sugar with 3 tablespoons water over medium heat until a syrup is formed. Remove from heat and set aside.
With a large mortar and pestle, pound the garlic, chilies, and dried shrimp together until it forms a paste and is homogenous. Transfer this paste to a mixing bowl and add the tamarind syrup, palm sugar syrup, lime juice, zest, and fish sauce (and rice powder, if using). Mix well and set aside.
For the Salad
Julienne the green papaya and carrot using a mandolin (or with a box grater, or the grater attachment on a food processor). Combine with the remaining salad ingredients. Mix with the dressing. Adjust the dressing to balance the flavors of sour, sweet, salty, and spicy.
Garnish with roasted peanuts.
For a vegan version, omit the dried shrimp and you can replace with re-hydrated seaweed like kombu or hijiki. In place of the fish sauce, add a touch more tamarind paste and soy sauce.