Scraping a living. This woman spends a morning on the beach looking for small crabs. She would scrape the sand and quickly grab these fast creatures. These crabs are used in a variety of Thai dishes.
They are fermented and then, after being pounded in the mortar, added to Som-Tam (spicy green papaya salad) and other dishes. The mushed up crabs are eaten complete, with shells and feet.
Green Papaya Salad, or Som Tam, is a very common spicy dish eaten throughout Thailand. It originates in Laos/Issan, but now the whole country enjoys it. This dish is easily made vegetarian by omitting the dried shrimp and crab, and substituting salt for the fish sauce.
*- First prepare the green unripe papaya by peeling the dark green skin. Then, hold the papaya in your hand, and smack the fruit lengthwise with a good sized knife. You want to create 1/2″ or so deep cuts into the fruit. Do this over and over until you have created a good amount of cuts. Then, cut the papaya lengthwise to produce long strips. You can also buy tools which can create long shreds, or even use a cheese grater (the big holes). Thai people use the big knife method though!
*- In a ceramic mortar & pestle, add the whole garlic cloves and chilies. Pound with the pestle a few times to mash, then add the long beans or green beans. Pound a few more times, and add a pinch of papaya. This helps mix the garlic & chilies. Pound some more.
*- Add the palm sugar, add fermented crab or fermented fish paste (plaa-raa), fish sauce (naam plaa) and pound more. Make sure everything is well mixed.
*- Add the tomato, chopped into large pieces. Pound more, but not as hard.
*- Add the lime juice, dried shrimp and the rest of the papaya. Pound about 10-15 times while mixing with a spoon. You want to evenly coat the papaya with the juices while pounding the flavor into the papaya, but don’t pound so hard that the papaya disintegrates.
*- Add the peanuts, mix and serve.
I have never seen anybody making less then a 3-4 lb of this salad. Everybody makes their own version! But most are very hot. I can only tolerate relatively mild version of this salad.