The diversity and profusion of summer fruits make it hard to decide which kind of fruits to pick for this week’s theme dish at IHCC. A small but good problem to have. Having myriad of choices in the stores can be very exciting. An abundant supply in a competitive marketplace makes for friendly consumer prices for seasonal fruits. I’m taking full advantage of it by making a lot of fresh salads and smoothies while preserving what remains.
Berries, stone fruits, or tropical fruits? I chose green papaya because it is one fruit that I’ve not used in my cooking. I’ve wanted to make a green papaya salad for quite a while but have had a difficult time getting the right ingredient. I thought green means unripe papaya and found two kinds were available on the shelves. Can’t tell the difference since they both looked green outside. Unripe papaya has a greenish flesh whether they are the red- or yellow-flesh variety.
Green papaya can be cooked and added into stir fries, stews, or curries. It has a texture similar to that of squash. Although it can also be eaten fresh, green papaya does not have the sweetness and texture as ripened papaya, making it appropriate for savory applications.
Curtis Stone’s green papaya salad balances the fresh fruity flavor with the heat from the red chili, making it a very refreshing salad for the summer. The flavor and texture of green papaya is sweeter, softer, milder than that of cabbage. This salad has a similar feel and taste to the cabbage and kohlrabi salad. For a tropical fruit vibe, mango can be substituted for green papaya, although mango has a much sweeter taste. I also like the idea of adding some quick pickled onion, ginger, cucumber or sweet pepper. Some acidity would undoubtedly add another dimension to this salad. Instead of using cashew nuts called for in the recipe, I used pistachio and pistachio oil, which I happened to have some around, for its greenish tone, lighter flavor and a softer crunch. I think any nuts, almonds, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts or walnuts, would work just as well.
|Key ingredients: green papaya, green onion, red chile, mint and pistachio|
|Some pickled onions round up the flavor of the salad|