This is one of my favorite street foods — in Bangkok, where I first tasted this dish, they toss in fresh crab, shell and all. It’s a completely transporting experience: As you eat the salad you stumble on pieces of shell, their crevices filled with bright, tangy vinaigrette just begging to be sucked out. My version is vegetarian, but if you’re feeling adventurous, add some beautiful blue crab (shells are totally optional).
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*Note: I love candied tamarind — it’s sort of sweet, sour, and spicy all at once. The bummer is it’s not always easy to find. Candied ginger on the other hand is pretty much everywhere these days and makes a perfectly good substitute.
In a small sauté pan, combine the oil and garlic and cook over medium-high heat until light golden, 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a blender along with the 2 chopped chiles, candied tamarind, sugar, ginger, and fish sauce. Blend until smooth, then add the lime juice and blend until just combined. Season with salt, to taste.
Heat a dry cast-iron or other heavy pan over high heat and bring it to the point of smoking. Add the long beans and cook them, turning frequently, until well charred on all sides but not burnt. Carefully transfer them to a medium-sized bowl and toss with the oil and season with salt, to taste. Chill in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.
Working in batches if necessary, use a mortar and pestle to pound the papaya until it's soft and releases some of its juice (you can also wrap the papaya in a dish towel and pound it with the back of a pot — you just want to break down the fibers). Place in a large bowl, add the cilantro and long beans, and toss to combine.
To serve, drizzle the vinaigrette over the papaya mixture and garnish with the cashews and minced chiles.