If you have been reading the past few weeks, I’ve been posting a lot of green papaya recipes. My beautiful tree broke in half under the weight of 30 or so green fruit and I had to get creative. Luckily, a seedling sprouted under the mother plant just after we pulled it out of the ground. With any luck, I’ll have more fruit from this prolific tree in a few months.
Green papaya is much more versatile than I thought, lending itself to savory dishes and cooking well, with a texture similar to a firm sweet potato. So far, I’ve roasted papaya and curried papaya and now I’ve fried it. Fried green papaya is my favorite preparation so far. It’s fun, unique and delicious. Served with a smoked paprika, cilantro remoulade, it’s a tropical spin on Southern favorite: fried green tomatoes.
It took a little experimentation to get this one right. Green papayas are too firm and need to be blanched before you fry them. I also tried green papayas at different levels of ripeness. The completely white ones (white flesh, white seeds) were good, but lacked any flavor. I found the best ones to fry were just blushing on the inside, with gray seeds. They stayed firm, and the sweetness intensified just enough.
To choose a papaya perfect for frying, the outside should be green, with a touch of yellow near the stem end. Peel of the skin with a vegetable peeler. At this point, you can slice ½” — 1’ rounds, or cut in half lengthwise, to make approximately ½” — 1’ thick sticks. Remove the seeds before you move onto the next step.
Papaya recipe adapted from Best Fried Green Tomatoes.
- 1 large green papaya, prepared as above
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup whole milk
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup cornmeal
- ½ cup dry breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning (optional)
- Salt and pepper
- ½ - 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon smoked sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon shallots or green onion, minced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2-3 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
- 2 teaspoons capers with caper juice, chopped
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce
- 1/8 teaspoon fresh black pepper
Bring a pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the cut papaya to the water. Cover and cook until just tender, about 5-8 minutes. Remove the papaya from the pot and cool under cold water.
Whisk together eggs and milk in a shallow bowl. Place the flour onto a plate, season with salt and pepper. Mix together cornmeal, breadcrumbs and Cajun seasoning on another plate or shallow bowl. Line up your mixtures in order: flour, eggs and cornmeal/breadcrumbs.
Dip the papaya in the flour until coated. Dip the papaya in the egg mixture, then into the cornmeal mixture, turning to coat. It helps to use separate hands for this, one for wet, one for dry. Place each coated piece aside, sprinkled with some extra cornmeal.
Using a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. There should be about ½” of oil in the pan. Fry the papaya in batches, 3-5 minutes per side until golden brown and crispy. Drain on paper towels. Serve with smoked paprika, cilantro remoulade.
In a small bowl, mix together all of the ingredients. Allow to chill in the refrigerator 1 hour for the flavors to meld.