Papaya Salad with Fried Shallots

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Serves 4


   Shallot oil and fried shallots:
1 cup vegetable oil
 4ounces shallots
 1 medium papaya
 1 medium carrot
 1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
 1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
 1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
 3 teaspoons lime juice
 2 teaspoons sugar
 1 teaspoon fish sauce
 2 teaspoons shallot oil
 1 serrano chile, seeded and finely chopped
 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
   2 tablespoons finely chopped peanuts



Shallot oil:  Peel shallots and slice them thinly.  Put them on a baking sheet and place them in the sun to dry for two hours or put them in a 200°F oven for 15 minutes with the door slightly ajar (put a wooden spoon in the door to keep it partially open).  Heat the oil in a small saucepan until warm (about 200°F).  Add the dried shallots and cook them slowly, stirring gently from the edge of the pan into the center, until they turn a light golden color, about 5 minutes.  Turn off the heat and remove shallots to a tray lined with paper towels.  Cool the oil and store it, refrigerated, in an airtight container for up to one month.

Salad:  With a vegetable peeler, shred the papaya and the carrot.  Put them in a medium bowl with the herbs and toss gently with your hands.

Dressing:  In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, sugar, fish sauce, shallot oil, chile and garlic.

Pour dressing over salad mixture and toss well.  Divide among 4 salad plates and garnish with peanuts and fried shallots.