in the kitchen: papaya slaw with lime and mint
Our neighbor has a papaya tree, and watching the fruit grow on it has been making me crave papayas in a major way. But instead of a regular old papaya eaten plain, how about papaya slaw? With cool, summery flavors like lime and mint? Yum.
I wanted a green (aka underripe) papaya, so that the flesh would be firm, giving the slaw a crunchy texture. But how do you tell a green papaya from a ripe one? They all look green in the store! I looked in an Asian market papayas specifically labeled “green,” but no dice. So I just picked up the firmest, greenest ones of the bunch and called it a day.
One of them was literally as big as my face.
For this slaw recipe, we just used the one mammoth papaya since it yielded a huge bowl of flesh. After removing the skin with a vegetable peeler, we cut it open and assessed what was inside:
Not as underripe as I was expecting, but it would do. While the center was turning orange, all the flesh was still firm and not yet too sweet. If you cut yours open and it’s bright orange, juicy and sweet, it probably won’t make for the best slaw. Just eat it with a spoon and pick another one (green all over, and very firm) for your slaw.
John used a mandoline to julienne the papaya, then we made a dressing with white wine vinegar, Maui onion, lime juice, and papaya seeds. The seeds give the dressing a light peppery flavor…yum. And we love vinegar, so we really loaded ours up. Depending on what you like, you might want to start with less vinegar and adjust as you go.
Papaya Slaw with Lime and Mint
2 medium papayas, or 1 gigantic papaya
1-2 tbs mint leaves, finely chopped
juice of 2 limes
1/2 c white wine or champagne vinegar
1/2 c sweet onion, chopped (we like Maui onions)
3 tbs papaya seeds
1 tsp honey
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the skin from the papaya. Use a mandoline to cut into julienne strips, or just use a really sharp knife and slice finely, to the size and shape of shoestring potatoes. But if you have a mandoline, that really works best!
2. Reserve the seeds. Clean and dry them, and pick through of any loose papaya flesh. You’ll use 2 tbs for the dressing…as for the others, well, you can plant your own papaya grove. We hear they’ll fruit in as little as 10 months!
3. Place the onion, vinegar, limes, honey, dijon, red pepper flakes, and 3 tbs of the seeds in a blender. Blend until smooth, streaming in the olive oil. I think I used about 1/4 cup; you want the dressing to be smooth, but not oily. Season to taste with a little salt.
4. Toss the papaya with the dressing and a tablespoon or two of fresh chopped mint leaves. (You may have some extra dressing, which would be delicious on a green salad.) Serve chilled.« in the kitchen: shredded chicken tacos in the kitchen: mint mimosas »