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Green Papaya – Malagaw

by Kasma Loha-unchit

Thai Ingredient Index

See also: Green Papaya Salad Recipe | Kasma's blog on green papaya

(Click image to see larger version.)

A Green PapayaGreen papaya has a very mild, almost bland, taste, but it is the medium through which robust flavor ingredients take body and form. It picks up the hot, sour, sweet and salty flavors, giving them a unique crisp and chewy texture unlike that of any other vegetable. When made into salad, you wouldn't know that it was mild and timid; you remember it only as bold and spicy.

Unripe papayas are readily available in various sizes and shapes during the summer at many Asian markets. Select one that is very firm with shiny green peel suggesting that it is as freshly picked as possible. Any very firm unripe green papaya can be used for the recipe, ranging from the small Hawaiian papaya to the huge Mexican variety. Shredded green papayaThe important thing is that it should be unripe - the flesh still light green, almost white, in color after it is peeled. Select the firmest one you can find. Even green fruits will eventually ripen and turn soft if allowed to sit around for some time.

There are many ways to make green papaya salads, with varying degrees of hotness, sourness and sweetness. The hottest salads are probably made in northeastern Thailand and Laos where they are eaten with barbecued chicken and steamed white sticky rice as a staple food of the populace. There, the salads are made by bruising julienned green papaya with garlic and very hot bird peppers in a large clay mortar with a wooden pestle, then seasoning with lime juice, fish sauce and other flavorings.

Kasma taught how to use green papaya to make Green Papaya salad in the Intermediate series (class 4).

Copyright © 2009 Michael Babcock. All rights reserved.

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