Green Papaya Salad

Yes, this is what green papaya looks like. First time I’ve seen the insides of one as well. As I was peeling the papaya with a kitchen knife (the vegetable peeler was a joke to it), I kept thinking “have I bought the wrong papaya? Maybe you are supposed to let it ripen a bit”. I tasted a sliver of papaya that I cut. Yikes. Crunchy, tasteless and worse still, I detected an astringent sap like liquid. Utterly confused and with doubts were swirling around my head, I put the papaya down and consulted Google. What I tasted was nothing like the papaya salad I’ve had at Thai restaurant. I must have bought the wrong papaya!

After reading some articles, I relaxed a little. The sap I encountered comes from the skin. Finish peeling the papaya and give it a rinse and the problem goes away. The shredded green papaya then needs to be prepped by soaking in some lemon juice or vinegar to soften it a bit and to give it the tang you often taste in papaya salads. Ok. Phew. Dinner was back on track.

Trying to shred the papaya was the next battle. I cut the papaya in half then tried a few tricks I’ve seen on TV of people cutting green mango. I won’t bother explaining what I tried to do, but just know that the very green papaya is not soft, and if you wish to keep all your digits intact, use a mandolin or a proper shredder to julienne the papaya. If you lack a mandolin or shredder, do it the old fashioned way with a knife, chopping board and some patience. I used a mandolin to thinly slice the papaya (please use the safety hand guard for the mandolin because again, you’d want to prevent any accidental loss of fingerprints) then julienned it with a knife.

I used the green papaya in a few recipes and they will be making their way to the blog shortly. This is the first recipe I made. Still have half a papaya left for more experiments.

Green Papaya Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • Half a green papaya (I suspect the papaya I bought was about 1.5kg and I bought it from an Asian supermarket. I see them fairly often at Asian grocers/ fruit and veg stores)
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar or lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup coriander or mint or any other micro herbs
  • 1/2 cup bean spouts (optional)
  • 4 tbsp crushed peanuts (optional)
  • 1 roasted beetroot/ carrot (wrap beetroot or carrot in foil and roast for 40 mins in oven at 180C/355F)
  • 1 tsp plum/ apricot jam (optional)

Note: This recipe is versatile. You can add a whole bunch of different items to change it up a bit. I have listed optional items above that will go well with this salad.

Utensils Required

  • Mandolin or shredder (optional)

Method

  1. Peel the papaya with a knife and rinse well to remove the sap.
  2. Use a spoon to scrape and remove the white seeds and any stringy bits
  3. Use a mandolin or shredder to slice/ grate the papaya. If you don’t have either, slice the papaya as thinly as you can, then julienne it.
  4. Marinade the papaya with vinegar/ lemon juice, water, salt and sugar and mix well. Leave it to rest for 10mins, and toss it again, resting for another 10 mins.
  5. If using beetroot or carrot, julienne it after roasting.
  6. Drain marinade (reserve the liquid) from papaya strips then mix papaya with all remaining ingredients (excluding jam).
  7. I like to mix the leftover marinade with 1 tsp of plum/ apricot jam to drizzle over the salad.
  8. Serve with roasted pork belly. This sweet and sour salad is a great match with roasted meats.

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