Shopping Spree

Moving to San Diego has expanded my palate immensely. Before living here, I always thought that I had already tasted a lot of different flavors of the world…. I was clearly in the wrong.

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John and I spend a good amount of our paychecks (mostly his paycheck nowadays) on food and restaurants. I remember when I first moved in with him. We looked at our bank statement and realized that we needed to adjust our budget. We had spent a ridiculous amount of money on going out to eat. I’m pretty sure that this had to do with the fact that I had an ongoing list of restaurants that I wanted to try. So it was kind of my doing… Restaurants are my weakness though, how can you not love just trying new food and sharing experiences with good company? Going out to a new restaurant is my equivalent of a shopping spree.

I also fell more in love with John through this “expense” – he was dying to take me to Convoy street to try Korean BBQ. I remember him ordering like a pro, even asking the server for some lettuce leaves which aren’t even offered on then menu. It was an adventure and I tried flavors that I had never been exposed to before. We tried Ethiopian, French, Indian, Vietnamese…

Thai food has become one of our favorites. We probably eat it once a week. One of our dear friends (Hi Kira!) is a girl from Thailand who is the best at cooking traditional Thai meals so she’s given us a lesson or two. I made Pad Thai for the first time with her and she filled me in on all the ingredients that we probably needed to get at an Asian market (99 cent ranch market for the win).

Now that we’ve gone out to restaurants a lot and I’ve been exposed to all of these spices and combinations, I am at a place where I’m attempting to recreate some dishes we’ve had and learn how to cook dishes from other cultures. Going out is still something that I very much enjoy, I’m always on the lookout for new places. However, I’ve been equally enjoying cooking at home for my loved ones and friends. It’s cheaper, healthier and definitely a little more intimate as you welcome people into your home.

Som tum has a special place in my heart, John and I probably had it every day during our honeymoon in Thailand. So good!

I made som tum and red curry this past weekend. I think the curry could use some changes so I won’t hurry and share that recipe with you just yet. The som tum was delicious, super fresh, crisp and with the right amount of spice and sweetness.

Som Tum – Yields 6 cups – Gluten Free – Vegan

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of shredded green papaya
  • 1 cup of shredded carrots
  • 10 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup of green beans cut into one inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup of roasted peanuts
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 4 tablespoons of thai palm sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of Tamara
  • 2 thai chilies
  • Juice of 3 large limes

Directions:

In a large bowl, pound the garlic clove and the chilies until you form a smooth paste.

Add the palm sugar and pound it into the paste as well.

Add 1/4 cup of peanuts and pound into small pieces, don’t allow them to form a thick paste though.

Add the green beans and pound them until they are slightly bruised and opened.

Add the tomatoes and pound then lightly, just enough to get the juices out of them and into the mix.

Add the papaya, carrots and remaining 1/4 cup of peanuts. Mix well.

Add the juice of the limes and the soy sauce. Use two large wooden spoons to mix until the ingredients are all coated with juices.

Serve in bowls or small side dishes.

Note: I like papaya salad chilled so I had our bowl sit in the fridge for about an hour before serving.

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