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Recipes with Wine Pairings

Green Papaya Salad with Rau Ram, Peanuts and Crispy Shallots

This Vietnamese-inspired recipe is a standout in Napa Valley

A signature dish from The Slanted Door, the Green Papaya Salad is layered with English cucumber, pickled carrots, fish sauce, shallot oil and roasted peanuts. "The addition of fried tofu, celery, and cucumber aren't traditional," says Charles Phan, "but I like the flavor and texture they add." Rau ram is a common Vietnamese green herb with a flavor somewhere between cilantro and mint. If you can't find it, a mixture of spearmint and cilantro is a fine substitute.

Green Papaya Salad with Rau Ram, Peanuts and Crispy Shallots

Makes 6 servings

  • 2 cups canola oil
  • 6 ounces medium-firm tofu, patted dry and cut into 3- by 3-inch squares, ¼-inch thick
  • 1 large green papaya (about 2 pounds), peeled, halved, seeded and finely julienned with a mandoline or sharp knife (about 5 cups shredded)
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped fresh rau ram, or a mixture of spearmint and cilantro
  • ½ English cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise into half moons (about 1 cup)
  • 2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup pickled carrots
  • ¼ cup flavored fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons shallot oil or canola oil
  • ¼ cup roasted peanuts, finely chopped, for garnish
  • ⅓ cup fried shallots, for garnish
  1. In an 8-inch frying pan, heat the canola oil over high heat to 350°F on a deep-frying thermometer.
When the oil is ready, carefully add the tofu slices and fry, turning once, for 15 minutes, until golden brown on both sides. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the tofu to paper towels to drain. When cool, cut into strips ¼-inch wide.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the papaya, rau ram, cucumber, celery, carrot and tofu strips. Pour the flavored fish sauce and shallot oil over the top and toss to coat evenly. Transfer to a serving platter and garnish with the peanuts and shallots.

Pickled Carrots

Makes ½ cup

  • ¼ cup distilled white vinegar

  • ¼ cup sugar

  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

  • ½ cup peeled and finely julienned carrots

  1. In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, sugar and salt and stir until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Add the carrots and let stand for at least 20 minutes before serving. If not using
right away, cover and refrigerate for up to a week. Drain the carrots well before using.

Flavored Fish Sauce

Makes 1½ cups

On its own, fish sauce is an assertive condiment. But blended with water, sugar, and an acidic element, it becomes a mellow dipping sauce, despite the addition of chiles and garlic.

  • ½ cup fish sauce

  • ⅓ cup sugar

  • ¼ cup distilled white vinegar or freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 to 2 Thai chiles, stemmed and minced
  1. In a small bowl, combine the fish sauce, sugar, vinegar or lemon juice, and ½ cup water and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the garlic and chiles and stir to combine. 

  2. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to 1 week if made with vinegar or up to 2 days if made with lemon juice.

Crispy Fried Shallots

Makes 1 cup

Crispy, sweet, and salty, they are an indispensable condiment in Vietnam. You may want to make double batches, as people have a hard time resisting the urge to snack on them. Strain the oil you used to fry the shallots and use it in other recipes or to fry more shallots. The strained oil, called shallot oil, will keep, refrigerated, for several weeks. The shallots should be used the same day they are fried.

  • 2 cups thinly sliced shallots (about 4 large shallots)
  • 2 cups canola oil
  1. In a small saucepan, heat shallots and cook just the oil over medium-high until it registers 275° on a deep-fry thermometer. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, until light golden brown, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
  2. Increase the heat to high and place a fine-mesh sieve over a heatproof bowl. When the oil registers 350°F on the deep-fry thermometer, add the once fried shallots and cook until they are crispy and well-browned, about 1-2 seconds, watching carefully so the shallots don’t brown.
  3. Immediately, and carefully, pour the oil and shallots through the sieve to stop the cooking, then transfer to shallots to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Reserve the oil for another use. The shallots will keep, stored in an airtight container, for 1 day, but they're best the day they are made.