With colours reminiscent of a Gauguin Tahitian painting, pawpaw and papaya add an instant taste of the tropics.
The large fruits of the papaya and pawpaw not only boast colour, but flavour, versatility, and significant digestive and nutrition benefits. Papaya, or red papaya as it is known in Australia, grows on a tree, has greenish-yellow skin and red to orange sweet flesh.
Selection and storage: Choose fruit that smell fragrant and give slightly when squeezed. Don’t worry too much about blemishes as pawpaw will rarely have perfect skin.
Papaya and pawpaw go with: Coconut, lime, chilli, avocado, coriander, sesame, fish, prawns, peanuts, mint, honey, macadamia nuts, rum and pepper.
These recipes were originally published in Australian Country issue 19.8. Click here to subscribe to our magazine.
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Recipes and styling Kay Francis
Photography Ken Brass
Rice Paper Rolls with Pawpaw & Prawn
1 small pawpaw, seeded, peeled and cut into thin slices
1 avocado, peeled and sliced thinly
12 large green prawns, peeled, steamed and halved, lengthways
1 tablespoon crushed pink peppercorns
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon finely chopped red chilli
24 Thai basil leaves
24 mint leaves
½ cup coriander leaves
12 sheets Vietnamese rice paper wrappers
Squeeze lime juice over avocado and pawpaw. Set ingredients out on work surface, with prawns, peppercorns, vinegar and chilli in one bowl. Run fairly hot water into the sink, deep enough to dip rice papers in. Place a damp tea towel on work surface. Dip a rice paper into hot water for 5 seconds, then place on tea towel. Work in batches of three.
Lay 2 mint leaves and 2 Thai basil leaves, face down, in centre of each rice paper. Put a slice of pawpaw and of avocado on top of the leaves and then two pieces of prawn and peppercorn/chilli mixture. Top with coriander. To shape rolls, fold in two ends, and then from one side fold wrapper over filling and tightly roll up.
Place the rolls, spaced apart, on a tray lined with baking paper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until required. Can be made 24 hours in advance.
Little Papaya Cakes with Grilled Papaya
¾ cup hazelnut or walnut oil
G rated rind and juice of 2 limes
1 cup coconut sugar (or raw caster sugar)
2 cups coconut flour (or plain flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ cup yoghurt
1 papaya: peel, seed and coarsely mash half, reserve the rest for grilling
Juice of 1 lime, extra
4 tablespoons of coconut or raw
Date molasses, agave syrup or honey Thick cream, to serve
Preheat fan-forced oven to 160°C or 170°C for regular oven. Beat oil, eggs, lime rind and juice and sugar in a large bowl. Stir in sifted flour and baking powder, then yoghurt and mashed papaya. Fill 12–15 x ⅓-cup dariole baking moulds or small muffin tins with mixture. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine lime juice and sugar for glaze. Rest cakes in mould for 10 minutes, then turn out on to a wire rack and, while still warm, spoon glaze over each. For grilled papaya, peel and slice reserved half. Brush with your choice of syrup. Grill on ribbed grill pan over medium heat for 3-4 minutes on each side. Serve individual cakes with a slice of grilled papaya and thick cream if desired.
Papaya, Lime & Coconut Parfait
2 small papaya
30g sheet gelatine
Juice of 8 limes
2 tablespoons coconut sugar
2 cups coconut yoghurt, removed from fridge 1 hour before (see note)
⅓ cup dark rum, warmed
1 tablespoon flaked coconut, toasted
Peel and seed one papaya, place in blender and puree. Soak 20g of the gelatine leaves in cold water until soft. Place lime juice and sugar with 1 cup water in a small saucepan and heat until warm. Squeeze water from gelatine and add gelatine to warm lime juice. Stir to dissolve. Pour half the mixture into blender with papaya and mix well. Pour mixture into 6 x 250ml serving glasses. Refrigerate for 4 hours.
The mixture will not be solid but quite thick. (Keep remaining lime liquid at room temperature.) Heat rum in microwave for 2 minutes. Soak the remaining gelatine as before and stir into warm rum, then into coconut yoghurt. Chill until cold, then carefully spoon into glasses on top of papaya mixture. The yoghurt will sink into the papaya mixture a little but a thin line will show. Chill until firm. Reserve ½ cup lime liquid and carefully pour remainder into glasses to form a thin layer over yoghurt. Return to refrigerator to set. Cut remaining papaya in half, scoop out seeds. Using a melon baller, make balls of papaya. Place in a small dish with remaining lime liquid and chill until serving. To serve, scoop jellied melon balls from dish, cut each in half and arrange on parfait. Garnish with toasted flaked coconut.
Note: Make your own coconut yoghurt by draining natural yoghurt in the fridge overnight, mixing the whey with a sachet of coconut milk powder and then mixing it back into the yoghurt curd. Refrigerate two hours.