Last Tuesday in Grilling Class, Chef Celine talked to us a little bit about papaya. We learned that papaya contained a powerful enzyme that is present in the flesh and seeds of the fruit.
Later that week, I researched a bit more about papaya and found out some pretty cool stuff. The powerful enzyme is called Papain and has been used for meat tenderizing for centuries in Latin cultures and acts to soften the meat while still keeping moisture in. Nowadays, it is sold as a supplement for those who have trouble digesting food. (source)
I also found out that the seeds are very peppery and spicy. They are chewed in some countries to freshen breath and are often used in salads and other dishes.
While shopping on Saturday, I saw a big display of papaya which was odd since I have never seen this particular store carry them. Naturally, I bought one and went to work on my experiments . . . it must have been a sign.
I was so excited to see what it tasted like without anything added. It had all the makings of a great fruit. The flesh had a creamy soft texture and had a sweet smell. I was thinking it would taste kind of like mango . . .
Definitely not what I was expecting. It was slightly sweet but had a mild savory blandish taste too. I cant really put my finger on it. Still, I was determined to make the most of it.
I looked around the house to see what I could pair it with to make it taste better and remembered I had bought 2 navel oranges. I thought the acid and the sweetness would balance out the interesting taste of the papaya.
I segmented the orange (my segment tutorial HERE) and squeezed the remaining juice in with the fruit.
Much better! I also ended up adding a pinch of salt which balanced things even more. It made a good companion to my breakfast.
I packed up the remaining papaya salad for snacks later in the week.
I still had all the seeds and some of the fruit left over so I went on to my next experiment.
Since the seeds are very peppery I read that they make a good salad dressing and marinade when blended together with something acidic.
To my blender, I added the contents of the above bowl, plus 1/4 of chopped papaya flesh, 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar, salt AND the juices that were pooling in the bowl I made the papaya orange salad in.
WOW that’s spicy!! I cant say I was a huge fan but I am willing to try it on todays salad which brings me to my next experiment.
My salad will be topped with chicken. Chicken that has been sitting in the above marinade.
I waited about 30 min for the marinade to set in before I grilled it up.
These tasted amazing! They are the chicken equivalent to a nice tender short rib and the spicy peppery flavor totally worked. I cant wait for lunch!!
I will be freezing the rest of the marinade for future tenderizing’s
I love experimenting with new foods, and especially finding uses for all the different parts. There truly is so much you can do with TRUE foods and as you can see, its really not that hard! Sure, you win some you lose some but its totally worth it!
Have you had papaya before? What food do you get the most uses out of?