Originally Posted 10 July 2021
When I first got out to the farm and things were shutting down left and right around us because of Covid precautions I had trouble getting some basic items in Rakiraki. Eggs were from Volivoli peninsula, which was a containment zone, so there were none in the market. Things like yogurt and cheese came from Suva and in the first few days after the containment area was established cargo didn't always make it through the borders. I remember walking the farm looking at every tree and plant to see if it could provide our necessary calories. I had such a feeling of relief looking at the papaya trees, even though the fruits were green, I knew this was one option open to us in the days ahead. I like it all the time, it's not a lockdown-only option at our table.
Green Papaya Salad
- 1 large or 2 small cloves garlic, peeled
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon dry-roasted salted peanuts, more for garnish
- 2 fresh bird chilies or serrano chilies, sliced
- ½ teaspoon raw sugar or white sugar
- 1 tablespoon dried shrimp (optional)
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 to 2 tablespoons fish sauce (nam pla), to taste
- 2 plum tomatoes, 1 large round tomato, or 8 grape tomatoes, coarsely chopped
- ½ pound long beans, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths (optional)
- 1 small to medium green (unripe) papaya (see Note)
- Lettuce for serving (optional)
- In a blender or mortar, blend or pound garlic, salt, peanuts, chilies, sugar and shrimp (if using) into a paste. Transfer to a large bowl and mix in lime juice and fish sauce. Use a spoon (or the mortar) to lightly crush tomatoes and beans (if using), then add to bowl and mix lightly.
- Peel and coarsely grate or shred papaya, discarding seeds and inner membrane. There should be 4 to 6 cups.
- Add papaya to bowl and lightly but thoroughly toss together. Taste for seasoning. Mound in a bowl (if desired, line bowl with lettuce leaves beforehand). Sprinkle with peanuts and serve.
Tip - If green papaya is unavailable, use an equivalent amount of coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage and carrots).
What's your go-to food when options are limited?