Archive for April, 2010

Pickled Papaya

You can marinate the meats in the Silver Swan Soy Sauce, and dip them in the Datu Puti vinegar, fry the rice in enough garlic to keep Dracula’s minions away for a hundred years but, unless you have Atsara, your Filipino meal isn’t really complete.  It’s that sweet, sour, crunchy explosion in your mouth that goes so well with the hot, salty, sometimes spicy, sometimes fried, sometimes grilled meats and fish of Filipino cooking.  Much as I scoured the streets of Manhattan, I couldn’t find it premade.  Walking back home through Chinatown, I spied the green papayas making their seasonal appearance. What the heck, I figured. It can’t be that hard to pickle.


1 green papaya, coarsely grated/julienned, salted and left overnight

1 large carrot

1 green bell pepper, julienned

1 red onion, julienned

2 T raisins


3 c vinegar

2 c sugar

1 inch ginger

2 cloves garlic

Atsara In The Making

So the first thing I’m going to make you do is cut butterflies out of carrots. It’s easier than you think, plus it gets the kids to eat their sweet-sour-pickled vegetables.

Peel the carrot and cut off the narrow end and the stem end so you end up with a fairly even cylinder. With a very sharp paring knife, cut out grooves vertically along the carrot.  This will end up being the spaces between the petals or butterfly wings (What it ends up being on my end is almost always an accident).

Getcher Groove On

When that is done, use a chef’s knife or mandoline to slice the carrot (horizontally this time) about 1/8 inch thick. Voila, Orsino! Girly carrot shapes!


Boil the vinegar and the sugar with the rest of the ingredients until the sugar is completely dissolved.

While the syrup is boiling (keep an eye on it!), bring out the papaya and squeeze as much water out of it as you can. Toss it in a large bowl with the onions, carrots, bell pepper and raisins.  If you are going to use it in the next week or so, just pour the syrup over the vegetables, cover and let cool before moving it to the fridge.

Ready for canning

This makes a shitake-load of pickle though, so you might want to “can” some– give some away and keep some for a rainy, Filipino day.  A little goes a long way.

To do this, sterilize a few mason jars by boiling them in a large pot of water.  Dry them thoroughly. Fill them with the veggies, making sure to push down so no air gets trapped within (that leads to bad news bears).  Pour the boiling hot syrup into the jar, up to the top (again, so as not to leave room for beasties) and close tightly with the mason lids. As the pickle cools, you’ll hear the jar lids pop in from the suction. At that point your store of atsara is safe for the next nuclear fallout.

Ignore the Mess.


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