In Season - June 2009
Cultivating fruit trees is one of the many benefits of living here. One fruit, papaya, offers a creamy taste with a softer balance than that of a mango—vaguely similar to pineapple and peach, although milder and without the tartness. The unripe green fruit can be eaten when cooked, usually in curries and salads. But I prefer to just sprinkle fresh papaya with fresh lime juice and enjoy as it is.
Most likely the papaya that you purchase from your local grocer has come from Mexico or Hawaii. It’s ripe when it feels soft (like a ripe avocado, or a bit softer). Look for the skin to have amber to orange hue. The black seeds are edible—and excellent for digestion—with a sharp, spicy taste.
Papayas that are very yellow should be left at room temperature, where they’ll ripen in a few days. To speed this process, place them in a paper bag with a banana. Ripe papayas should be stored in the refrigerator and consumed within one or two days for maximum flavor.
Grilled Jumbo Prawns and Scallops with Papaya Salsa
This recipe is easy to do indoors on a George Foreman grill or outdoors.
1 lb. scallops
8 jumbo prawns
8 (10-inch) bamboo skewers, soaked in water
1 ripe papaya, diced
1 cup red onion, chopped
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons lime juice, separated into 1 tablespoon plus 2
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon crushed
1 pinch kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Rinse scallops and pat dry, set aside. Peel and de-vein shrimp. Soak bamboo skewers in water (this prevents burning on the grill).
Combine papaya, rice wine vinegar, red onion, garlic, cilantro, 2 tablespoons lime juice, red pepper and salt. Mix gently to avoid mashing papaya. Cover and refrigerate.
Place scallops on skewers. Mix together oil and 1 tablespoon lime juice. Baste scallops and shrimp and use two skewers ½ inch apart for shrimp and scallops to keep the shrimp from curling while grilling. Place on oiled grate. Grill until opaque, about 3 minutes on each side. Serve with papaya salsa on the side.