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Mar 16, 2010 06:56 PM

Green Papayas

I have a recipe for green papaya salad. I can only find red papayas in the markets. Are green papayas a different variety or just unripe? Are they seasonal? Where can I buy them?

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  1. The recipe likely is Thai; if memory serves green papayas also show up in some neighboring countries' food, such as Cambodia. (I am sure someone more knowledgeable will chime in!) So, look for them in any market that caters to people from that general region. I often find them at the usual major Chinese supermarkets, I am sure I have seen them at H-Mart although I would not say they are always available there. Russo's often carries them too.

    2 Replies
    1. re: PinchOfSalt

      My apologies to all. In a senior moment, I was thinking of green mangoes. Quite another topic. Sorry.

      1. re: PinchOfSalt

        both green mangos and green papayas are used in southeast asian cooking (namely laos, thailand, and cambodia)

    2. green papayas are unripe red papayas. they are available year round and can be found at most asian markets

      9 Replies
      1. re: galangatron

        Galangatron, I figure you might be able to answer this question - people speak so lovingly about the wonders of juicy, sweet papayas, but whenever I taste one, I always seem to get a strong hit of bitterness to the flesh. Even when I think I am getting a piece that is sweet and ripe, I get that flavor too. And in any case, they never seem all that sweet.

        So do you think I am just not getting ones that are tree-ripened here in New England, or is this normally part of the flavor profile? What do you look for when you pick yours?

        Your sage advice is wanted...

        1. re: Bob Dobalina

          it shouldn't be bitter. look for a papaya that is predominately yellow in color, free of any bruises or markings, and yields to light pressure (like an avocado)

          1. re: Bob Dobalina

            I love papayas and buy them often. That said, it is REALLY difficult to find good ripe papaya's in Boston. But they do exist. 85% of the ones I see in local supermarkets are inedibly unripe, and sadly once picked they don't ripen well.

            They have to give a bit to the touch, be VERY heavy, and often have a red or orange blush showing through the skin. I often have better luck with the very large melon sized ones though occasionally the small ones, sometimes from Hawaii are good too.

            Keep trying, you'll get a good one.

            Though in fairness, even the very best I've had here are not as good as what you can get someplace tropical.

            Green papaya is a totally different beast, should be dark green and rock hard. Best shredded and used in a salad.

            1. re: StriperGuy

              Thanks for the advices...I will give it another try.

              1. re: StriperGuy

                Green Papaya is used all over the latino world for doce de mamao verde (Brazil) known as dulce de lechoza (verde) in Spanish which is one of the easier "doces" to make. In those its often shredded or cubed, but I like using a peeler to get layers of it. Petiscos in Somerville sometimes has a house-made doce de mamao verde c/coco and without which is nice enough but its a lot better in Brazil. In Brazil its also used as a vegetable -- both in traditional recipes, but its also been used a lot in modern recipes because of the nutrition. Some traditional combinations are it with dried beef (carne seca c/mamao verde), ribs (costelinha c/mv), even shrimp (camarao), and stewed like a pumpkin.

                For BD, definitely try to get the ripest possible even with a few spots showing through and you might want to try it with a bit of fresh lime juice. For the ripe papaya, I think simplest preparations are the best. One of my favorites is just blending it with farm fresh cream and sugar to taste, then drizzling a liquer over it (creme de cassis works nicely as does licor de jabuticaba -- think dark fruit liquers). Its very subtle, though so don't serve it with something overpowering.

                1. re: itaunas

                  Thanks, Itaunas - that sounds like a great counterpoint to my plate of corned beef and cabbage today.

            2. re: galangatron

              Hmmm... So should I buy a red papaya that feels hard and unripe, or should I look for a label that says "green papaya"?

                1. re: galangatron

                  And be careful with the use of the word "papaya" in some latino settings. Lechosa/lechoza, fruita bomba (mamao in portuguese) are much safer.

            3. I'm pretty sure I've seen them at Russo's.

              1. Russo usually carries green papaya.
                For Bob Dobalina, use a coffee spoon to scoop out the seeds & the vein that seeds sticks to would help with removing the bitter taste, if you crush the seed, it's more bitter.