Green paw paw is not such an unusual ingredient to the Vietnamese and Thai communities in Western Sydney but I was interested to learn its native origins lie much further away in the tropical areas of America and Mexico. I stumbled across a table of bright green paw paw’s last weekend during my regular fresh food shopping at Sydney Markets. I was instantly intrigued as to how I could use it in an adventurous dish at home.

When paw paw is eaten ripe it has a subtle sweet flavour with a colour and texture similar to mango. Green paw paw on the other hand is quite the opposite. Green or unripe paw paw is not sweet. The texture is firm but slightly crunchy with a lovely light fresh flavour similar to cucumber. These elements make green paw paw a great carrier for more exotic flavours.

green paw paw

 

After researching several green paw paw recipes for inspiration I decided to make a green paw paw salad which contained cherry tomatoes and snake beans with a fresh Thai lime dressing.

I made my own altered version of this salad, you can find the original recipe  here http://www.abc.net.au/tv/pohskitchen/stories/s3003928.htm .

I started by gathering and preparing my salad ingredients. In addition to the paw paw I ended up using a couple of handfuls of halved cherry tomatoes, eight chopped snaked beans, one long chopped chilli, a large handful of bean sprouts, some sliced yellow capsicum and a few sprigs of coriander.

 

pawpaw peeled

 

The paw paw was peeled with a standard vegetable peeler then the flesh was shredded with a hand held vegetable slicer using maximum safety precautions. I was surprised to see the volume of shredded paw paw, this was going to be a big salad!

 

pawpaw shredded

 

The shredded paw paw was  tossed into a bowl along with the tomatoes and chilli. Snake beans can be slightly tough; I opted to blanch those before adding them to the salad.With the salad prep done, it was time to sort out a dressing.

 

greenpawpaw lime dressing

 

I am not a huge fan of heavy salty savoury flavours in salad dressings. I kept mine fresh and light by adjusting the balance of fish sauce to lime juice. I started with the juice of two very large juicy limes and a tablespoon of fish sauce . It’s easy to build on this later to adjust the fish sauce or lime if you need to. The dressing also contained 1 tablespoon of sugar, a small clove of crushed garlic and a small teaspoon of chopped roasted peanuts.  I started blending it all together in a mortar and pestle but this proved to slow for me.  I decided to toss it all into a small food processor gave it a quick blitz then strained it. That was easier!

pawpaw complete salad

 

Everything was now ready to complete the dish. The dressing was tossed through the paw paw, chilli, tomatoes and snake beans. To add further crunch and flavour the salad was topped with a large handful of crisp bean sprouts and some thin sliced yellow capsicum. Finally, little garnishes of strategically placed tomato, coriander and chopped peanuts made it look very pretty.

greenpawpaw chicken

 

I served this salad part of an Asian dinner alongside chicken and rice dishes. Even though there was a large volume of salad it was quite light allowing you to devour a healthy portion. My husband and I really loved it!

I hope I have inspired you to try a green paw paw one day, let me know what you think of them.

 

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