Real green papaya can be hard to come by, hence the workarounds. The flavor base of this is very strong and good so experiment until you get a vegetable combination you like. Serves 4-6.
4 c cabbage (½ head), finely shredded (or equivalent amount of shredded turnip, rutabaga, mango, cucumber or…)
¼ lb green beans, cut into 1 inch lengths
10 or so cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise, or one large tomato cut lengthwise into matchsticks
3 cloves garlic
2 T fish sauce
¼ c lime juice
2 T sugar
3 T or more dried shrimp, ground in a blender
¼ c unsalted peanuts, roasted and chopped very fine
Method: Mash/bruise the beans and tomatoes by rolling a can or bottle over them or pound lightly with a mortar and pestle; the goal is to soften these ingredients so they will absorb the dressing more readily. Add to the shredded cabbage in a serving bowl. Mix the next 6 ingredients in a blender or food processor. Assemble the salad by combining cabbage, tomato, beans and dressing and garnish with peanuts.
Note: in Thailand they make this in a big mortar and keep adding the ingredients and beating them together with a pestle to meld the flavors. You can do much the same thing by letting it sit for 15 minutes before serving, but you do need to give the tomatoes and beans a light bashing for appearance. Don’t let it sit around, though; after half an hour the flavor starts to dissipate.