If I had to pick one food that defines my summer cooking, I would have to say it would be salsa. And one of my goals this season is to make as many different kinds as I can. Salsa is really a wonder food. It’s incredibly healthy and low calorie, and it makes such a difference to so many different types of dishes. This is one I haven’t tried before. In fact I rarely use papayas, so this is a new experience for me all around.
You can get papayas in the supermarket most of the year, but summer is their season, and that’s when they’ll be cheapest and best. Choose them like you would an avocado; look for firm fruit that yields with pressure. If it’s too soft, pass on it, you’ll be dicing the flesh, and you don’t want it to be mushy. You can actually eat those beautiful black seeds, they supposedly taste peppery, and in some places they’re dried and ground like pepper. Too bad I forgot to taste them before I cleaned up.
The classic salsa, Spanish for ‘sauce’, is made with tomato, tomatillo, and chili peppers, which are all technically fruits. If you think of salsa as basically a chunky, raw fruit sauce, you can branch out in so many directions, like strawberry, pineapple, cantaloupe or apricot. I love how each fruit creates a unique salsa…in the case of papaya the flavor isn’t as important as the velvety texture that it brings. I like to combine a little bit of hot pepper along with it for a nice contrast.
- 1 papaya
- 1/4 medium red onion, finely minced
- a handful of fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
- juice of 1 large lime
- 1 hot green pepper (I used a Serrano) thinly sliced, seeds and all
- salt and pepper to taste
- Peel the papaya. A serrated vegetable peeler works well for this kind of job. Scoop out the seeds and dice the flesh.
- Mix the papaya with the rest of the ingredients. Taste to adjust the seasonings.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Plan to make and eat this salsa the same day; the fruit doesn't hold up well overnight in the refrigerator. This is a good rule of thumb for all salsas.
I have to say I think this salsa has a special affinity for fish. It’s perfect for topping Baja style fish tacos, which is exactly what we did.
Enjoy your week!