Atsara was an acquired taste for me.
Growing up, I distinctly remember not liking atsara and would push it off to the side of my plate so it would not touch my (Philippine) chicken barbecue. Meanwhile, my father would be making oohs and aahs, in a manlier way of course, over atsara. I couldn't understand the ado about some scraggly pieces of sweet-sour vegetables.
Who knows when the tide turned, eh? Now, I can't get enough of atsara. It is a perfect condiment to grilled meats and fishes. When we have our Filipino food fix at Rekados, I'd gobble up the atsara on top of each dish and ask for more.
We never thought of making atsara ourselves until Starry, Starry Night. It was the most opportune time to learn how to make a good atsara.
(Oh yes, we still have dishes from that night about which we haven't gotten around to blogging yet!)
Green Papaya Prep
It's actually very easy as this is one of those quick pickles. One just has to get through the green papaya prep.
I peeled the green papayas, cut them in half and discarded the seeds. I like the cool, barely green color of these unripe ones. Oh, and the seeds? Still pearly white.
Then, I had to shred the flesh. SO MUCH SHREDDING!!! Although, I did wise up and bought one of those fancy toothed "peelers" for just such an occasion. (I guess they are called "vegetable shredders.")
The shredded green papaya was salted and let to sit in a colander for about an hour. Then, I had to squeeze out the excess moisture.
(Is it just me, or am I always left to do some squeezing while preparing food? Evidence: here, here, here, here...)
Green papaya prep: done.
I leave the squeezing to TS because I know it's one of those tasks I cannot do very perfectly. We will have watery atsara if I were to do it. So, prudence being the better part of valour, better to delegate these sorts of tasks.
To make the pickling solution, I heated some vinegar (I used either cane or coconut vinegar) with sugar and a tiny bit of salt, then added a garlic clove, thinly sliced ginger, and some black peppercorns. It only needed a little time on the heat, just to dissolve the sugar.
I let this cool slightly.
Other ingredients in the atsara were carrots, red and green bell peppers, and onions. All were sliced thinly. Actually, carrots in atsara sometimes look like flowers. I tried carving out the sides of the carrot so that I can slice them into flower shapes, but it was not to be.
It looks pretty already!
It was just a matter of adding the pickling solution to the green papaya and other vegetables, letting the mixture cool to room temperature (if still warm), putting it in the refrigerator, and waiting. I suggest waiting overnight.
We didn't add raisins at first, thinking the atsara could forego it. We tasted it without, but JS wanted that, how would one describe it, well, raisin-y sweetness that sugar alone doesn't have. So we added a handful of raisins.
The atsara was a hit!
The whole container was pretty much devoured that very night. In fact, my mother has since requested atsara a few more times, but we just haven't gotten around to it.
I guess I need to pick up a green papaya soon.
Atsara (Green Papaya Pickle)
Makes 1.5 liters or 6 cups
1 large or 2 small green papayas
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 large carrot
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
1 large onion
1/4 cup raisins
1 cup cane or coconut vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
10-20 whole black peppercorns
1 garlic clove, whole
2-inch ginger, shredded/julienned
Peel papaya. Cut open and discard the seeds. Shred the flesh using a vegetable shredder. Place in a colander and add the kosher salt. Toss. Let sit for about an hour.
In the meantime, prep the other vegetables. Shred the carrot. "Julienne"/thinly slice the bell peppers and the onion. They should be similar in size and shape to the green papaya shreds.
After the hour is up, squeeze green papaya shreds to get rid of excess moisture. Toss green papaya together with the prepped vegetables and raisins.
In a small saucepan, heat the vinegar over low. Add the sugar, salt, black peppercorns, garlic clove and thinly-sliced ginger. Heat until sugar and salt have dissolved. Let cool slightly (until only lukewarm).
Pour over vegetables. Let cool to room temperature. Store in a container, cover tightly, and refrigerate overnight.
Serve as a condiment to meat or fish dishes, especially grilled items.
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[eatingclub] vancouver Filipino food
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Bulalo & Bangus: an even simpler Filipino meal
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Oyster Torta (Oyster Omelette)
Chicken Tinola (Chicken Soup w/ Green Papaya & Pepper Leaves)
(Chinese) Roast Pork Belly / Lechon
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Pork Belly, Two Ways
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Lechon Manok (Philippine Roast Chicken) & Lechon Sauce
"Chinese Adobo" Clams and Oysters
Bistek (Citrus Beef with Caramelized Onions)
Beef Kaldereta (Beef Stew with Bell Peppers)
Atsara (Green Papaya Pickle)
Sardinas na Bangus (Milkfish in the style of Sardines) and Pressure Cooker Fear
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