Your free what's on guide to the top end

Community Cook - Thassi Poodpon

Growing and understanding local produce.

By Emma Lupin and Abby Green

THASSI POODPON RELOCATED to Australia in 2017 from Thailand to be with her Australian partner, and has happily called Darwin home ever since. 

“I like the friendly people in Darwin and that it is easy to get around. I don’t really miss Thailand that much, apart from the people, but my husband does.”

Being from Thailand, food and flavours are an important part of everyday life, and the bounty of familiar tropical produce on offer truly makes Darwin feel like home. 

Thassi’s even found herself getting creative in the kitchen more than she did back home. 

One of Thassi’s staples is Som Tum – aka, green papaya salad – a dish she whips up daily. Thassi says the versatile papaya would definitely be top of her list of plants to take to a deserted island – along with chillies and rice!

This well-known dish is a staple throughout South-East Asia and can be found in Darwin markets. Thassi loves that it is tasty and healthy, and that green papaya is readily available, making it inexpensive and easy to make at home.

She enjoys making it for others and has shared it on several occasions at Gulp NT’s local community food gatherings.

Papaya facts. 

Carica papaya is native to the tropical Americas but has become naturalised or widely grown throughput the tropics, including South-East Asia and tropical Australia, and is very easy to grow here in The Top End. 

Papaya can be used green in many dishes, Som Tum being the most well known. It can be used in clear soups, roasted or fermented. 

Som Tum – Thai Papaya salad

One medium-sized green papaya (white inside)
2-3 chillies
1 tbsn. palm sugar
2 limes
4 cherry tomatoes
½ cup of peanuts

Shred the papaya into small strips with a mandolin or special shredding device. Cut the cherry tomatoes into halves.  

Soften the lime and then cut in half. 

In a mortar and pestle, mix the chilies with palm sugar and lime juice, and pound.

Add the cherry tomatoes and peanuts, and pound. Add in the green papaya last, and pound.

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