The sauce can be made ahead of time and will keep for at least six weeks. The marinade can be made up to a day ahead, and you can then marinate the chicken and keep it in the fridge for up to two days or in the freezer for up to three months.
Crisp, refreshing green papaya salad (or som tum) goes so well with any rich, coconut-based curry as well as being a virtuous Thinner Dinner accompaniment to grilled fish or chicken. You can make it and dress it a few hours in advance – re-taste for seasoning just before serving in case excess liquid has diluted the dressing. If you have a food processor with a julienne attachment, it's ready in a couple of minutes; otherwise, you could use a large grater or a mandoline with a julienne blade.
PREPARATION TIME: 30 MINUTES, PLUS 3 HOURS OVERNIGHT MARINATING
COOKING TIME 50 MINUTES, PLUS 10 MINUTES RESTING
1 small chicken, about 1.3kg (3lb), split down the back, backbone removed, flattened
FOR THE MARINADE
2 coriander stems, washed and finely chopped
1/2 tsp black peppercorns, ground
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp fish sauce (nam pla)
2 tsp light brown sugar
1 tbsp peanut oil or other mild-flavoured oil
FOR THE SWEET CHILLI SAUCE
2 coriander roots, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 long red chillies, seeded (or not, for more heat), finely chopped
80ml rice vinegar
75g white sugar
pinch of salt
FOR THE GREEN PAPAYA SALAD
1/2 green papaya (seeded, peeled and julienned – cut into thin matchsticks)
1 garlic clove
1 seeded long red chilli
2 tbsp fish sauce (nam pla)
2 tbsp lime juice, plus wedges to serve
2 tsp tamarind purée
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 For the marinade, either blitz all the ingredients in a food processor or pound using a pestle and mortar until you have a fine paste. Rub this all over your chicken and set aside in the fridge for a minimum of three hours, but preferably overnight.
2 For the green papaya salad (som tum), make the dressing by blitzing together the garlic, chilli, fish sauce, lime juice, tamarind purée and caster sugar and toss through the green papaya. You can make and dress it a few hours in advance – taste for seasoning just before serving in case excess liquid has diluted the dressing. You could almost leave it at that – the essentials are the papaya and the dressing – but a true som tum usually also includes cherry tomatoes (quartered), snake (yard-long) beans (chopped), dried shrimp and roasted peanuts, all of them added to the salad and then bruised lightly with a pestle to soften them.
3 To make the sweet chilli sauce, mix all the sauce ingredients together in a small saucepan and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Boil for about 10 minutes, or until the sauce is reduced and syrupy. Cool, then refrigerate in a covered container.
4 When you’re ready to cook the chicken, preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) and roast for 30 minutes, basting a couple of times during cooking, until it’s cooked through, and the juices run clear. You could also preheat the grill and give it a few minutes at the end of cooking for extra browning.
5 Cut the chicken into pieces and serve, piled on a platter, scattered with coriander leaves, with the sweet chilli sauce, lime wedges, steamed jasmine rice and the green papaya salad.
The Dinner Ladies: 170+ recipes to cook now eat later by Sophie Gilliatt and Katherine Westwood (Murdoch Books, £14.99), is out now.
To find out more about The Dinner Ladies, visit dinnerladies.com.au