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This Malaysian style Pickled Papaya is usually eaten as a snack or appetizer. It is crunchy, tangy, slightly spicy, and deliciously addictive. A must-try!
Pickled Papaya is a light snack that hits all the right notes. It is crunchy, tangy, slightly spicy, and deliciously addictive. Best of all, the wait time for the papaya to pickle is relatively short. The pickle can be eaten in two hours. It is also very inexpensive and easy to prepare.
Pickled Papaya as a Snack
This version of Pickled Papaya comes in slices instead of strips because it is meant to be picked up with a wooden pick, chopsticks, or your hand and eaten as is. As such, they are made slightly sweeter than most pickles so that one will not pucker when eating it. Most other versions are shredded for use as a side dish or accompaniment in sandwiches.
Choosing the Right Papaya
As mentioned earlier, this pickle is very easy to prepare. The trickiest part of the preparation is choosing the right papaya. If the papaya is too green, it will end up looking like pickled radish (daikon). Of course it can still be eaten but the appearance is not as attractive. It may also be a little too crunchy.
You want to find a semi green papaya that is about to ripen. The skin should still be mostly green with hints of yellow and it should still be firm but with a slight “give” when gently squeezed. This is no easy task. The first papaya I purchased was very green and so I left it to ripen on the counter. Unfortunately it became too ripe. I ended up eating most of the papaya. My second papaya as you can see was a little too green and firm resulting in an almost radish-like appearance after pickling.
The Third Time’s The Charm
Not to be deterred I decided to give it one more try and sure enough the third time’s the charm! The middle was a little ripe but that can easily be scooped away or not used. The ends always tend to be firmer. The color is beautiful and it has the right amount of crunchiness.
Chilies are usually added to give the pickles a slight “bite”. You can make it more spicy by adding more chilies or omit it altogether. I used one red chili because it looks pretty in the jar but you can use green chilies or even bird’s eye chilies for a spicier “kick”.
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- 1 small semi green firm papaya (about 2 lbs/900g)
- 2 tbsp kosher salt or coarse salt
- 1 red chili (seeded and cut into a floret)
- 1½ cups rice vinegar (360ml)
- 1 cup sugar (220g)
- Peel papaya. Cut into half lengthwise. Remove seeds with a spoon.
- Using a mandolin, slice papaya cross wise into thin slices about 1/8th of an inch thick.
- Place sliced papaya in a large bowl. Sprinkle salt all over the papaya. Mix well and set aside for 15 minutes.
- Place red chili floret in a bowl of cold water.
- In the meantime, combine rice vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until sugar has dissolved. Turn off stove and allow it to cool.
- Washed and drain papaya slices twice. Transfer to a sterilized jar together with the red chili.
- Pour vinegar mixture into the jar to completely cover the papaya slices. Screw on the lid.
- Pickled papaya may be eaten after 2 hours.
It is best to consume Pickled Papaya within 2 to 3 weeks or it will loose its crunchiness. A two pound papaya yields about 3 cups of pickles which isn’t much if you are a fan of pickles. That said, it is preferable to make these pickles in small batches.