Eye Catching Charred Corn and Red Papaya Salsa with A Hit of Chilli That Revitalises the Taste Buds. Using Baby Gem Lettuce Instead of Corn Chips to Scoop Up the Refreshing Salsa, This Vegan Red Papaya Salad Recipe Makes A Delicious Starter to Your Entertaining Needs.
What Kind of Fruit is Papaya?
Originally from Mexico and South America, papaya is now cultivated in many tropical and subtropical countries and regions like Carribean Islands, Hawaii and Pacific Islands. The sweet taste, vibrant colour and abundance of health benefits makes papaya a very popular fruit.
There are two varieties of papayas commonly grown in Australia. One is known as the red papaya and the other is yellow paw paw.
What Is the Difference Between Pawpaw and Papaya?
Yellow paw paw has yellow toned flesh that is rounder and larger than the more oval pear shaped red papaya that has deep orange flesh. They are both juicy, sweet fruit with black seeds in the central cavity of the fruit. However, red papaya is sweeter and has a luscious tropical taste whilst yellow paw paw is more mellow and has slight savoury flavours.
One of my favourite fruits to add into salads is the green papaya. Very popular in Southeast Asian cooking, the green papaya is deliciously tangy with crunch and matches so well with popular spicy salty fish sauce dressings. Great for raw papaya recipes. The green papaya is picked when the papaya fruit is unripe.
The taste and texture of a green papaya is completely differently to the ripe versions.
What Are the Health Benefits of Papaya?
Many cultures love papaya not only for its delightful sweet flavours but for its wide variety of health benefits. Popular as a breakfast item in tropical regions, papayas are high in fibre with rich sources of antioxidant nutrients such as carotenes, vitamin C, the B vitamins and folate and minerals such as potassium, copper and magnesium. Together these nutrients and minerals help with digestion, reduce risk of diabetes, provide protection against cancer and promote a healthy heart.
In Chinese tradition, papaya is also popular in many lactation recipes. During my confinement, the first month after my bubbas were born, I would have many bowls of comforting cooked papaya sweet dessert soup to help boost milk supply. I don’t think there is any scientific evidence with this theory but who would turn down delicious sweet treats delivered to the doorstep!
And don’t forget the ever so popular pawpaw ointment that make a regular appearance for cracked lips in our home.
Eight Delicious Ways to Eat Papaya
For this recipe I have used red papaya as it is the most delicious eaten raw. Also the natural sweet honey taste is perfect with the charred corn for this raw papaya recipe. Here are 8 popular ways to eat papaya include:
- Cut into wedges, add a good squeeze of lime juice and then scoop out to eat. Very popular at breakfast time.
- Cut red papaya and add to a tropical fruit salad along with mango, pineapple, strawberries, green kiwi fruit and grapes. Top with passionfruit pulp and scatter torn mint leaves.
- Wrap yellow paw paw with thinly sliced prosciutto to create a savoury sweet appetiser.
- Shred green papaya and carrot, toss with torn mint, coriander and roasted peanuts with a spicy salty fish sauce lime dressing. Add grilled prawns for a great main meal.
- Create tropical flavours with your next smoothie. Blend in red papaya, banana, coconut milk (or plain greek yoghurt), lime juice, honey and ice.
- Popular in chinese cuisine, end your meal with warm sweet red papaya and snow fungus dessert soup.
- Try using over-ripe papaya and make delicious jams
- Papaya and chicken coconut curry. Yes, papaya in curries. Give it a go!
Why I Love Chilli Charred Corn and Red Papaya Salsa
I have always been a big fan of red papaya. On our Fiji family holiday many moons ago, I had it for breakfast every single day. Cut into wedges with a good squeeze of lime, so YUM.
So when I saw it in season recently, I wanted to create a red papaya salad to showcase its honey sweetness. With smoky charred corn and a tangy lime dressing, this red papaya salad delivers a pop of tropical flavours that is great for summer entertaining. And with a little twist by using baby gem lettuce cups to help scoop the charred corn salsa, you have crunch and freshness all in one bite!
How to Make Chilli Charred Corn and Red Papaya Salsa
How to Grill Corn
I would love to grill the corn in its husk as I find it retains the juices so much better. However, by doing this it takes a little longer and most days I don’t have the extra time.
If grilling with husk on, peel back the outer husks back to the base and remove the inner silks (the long thread-like strands of plant material just under the husk) of the corn. Coat lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Fold the husks back into place. If not grilling with husk on, just coat corn with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Prepare the grill for medium-high heat. Place corn on hot grill and cook for 15 minutes or until well charred. If you have the husks on, it will take probably 20 minutes to cook. Turn the corn occasionally so all sides are cooked well. Once ready, remove from grill to cool down.
To remove corn from the cob, pull back husks and together cut the stem/base of the cob off. Then stand the ear of corn cut side down, holding it at the top of the corn. Run a sharp knife from top to bottom, cutting off the corn. Don’t cut too close to the white of the cob, you just want about ⅔ of the kernels. Keep cutting until you have all the corn kernels. Place cut kernels into a large mixing bowl ready for assembling.
How to Cut Red Papaya
For those who have not tried red papaya before, how do you choose the one that is good?
If you are looking to eat papaya straight away, choose a papaya that is bright yellow in colour as you know this if fully ripe. If you are leaving for a couple of days, choose the one that is yellow but still slightly green. Papaya will ripen at home. Make sure the fruit is firm, yielding to gentle pressure and have smooth skin. Avoid ones that have too many blemishes and overly soft. Especially for a salsa as you don’t want a mushy salad!
Cut the papaya lengthwise and then use a spoon and scoop out all the black seeds in the middle. I then normally cut the papaya again in half so you have 4 quarters. Turn the papaya onto the cut side, use a sharp knife and remove skin from flesh. Then slice the papaya into small 1.5cm cubes. Place cut papaya into a large mixing bowl with corn.
Prepare the Salad
Peel cucumber and then cut into long strips lengthwise. Then hold tightly together and cut into 1cm pieces. Place cucumber into large mixing bowl.
As I was preparing the salad for the family, I used larger thai red chillies as it is less hot than the smaller birds eye chilli we normally have. However, if you prefer a little more spice, definitely use a variety that gives more heat.
Cut chilli in half lengthwise and thinly slice into small rounds. Add cut chilli to the large mixing with other ingredients.
Wash and roughly chop coriander leaves. Set aside for assembly.
Wash and pull apart baby cos lettuce leaves. Set aside for assembly.
Slice spring onion into small rounds.
How to Make the Dressing
Simple dijon lime dressing with a lot of zing. Place olive oil, dijon mustard, lime juice, honey, salt & pepper in a jar and give it a good shake.
How to Assemble the Salad
In the large mixing bowl, mix charred corn, papaya, cucumber, spring onion and chilli together. Add dressing to the bowl and mix well so all ingredients are well covered by dressing.
Scatter ¾ coriander leaves and give it another mix.
To serve, I scooped some of the red papaya salad into individual baby gem lettuce cups and place them on a large serving plate. I probably did about 10 or so serves.
Then with the remainder of the charred corn salsa, I tumbled into large bowl and placed baby gem lettuce leaves on one side so guests can also help themselves to more. Basically we’ve replaced the corn chips with fresh crunchy baby gem lettuce leaves to scoop the salad. Such a refreshing change.
Scatter the remaining coriander leaves across the pre-loaded lettuce cups and the bowl of salsa.
For this vegan papaya salad, you can start with a more family friendly version but also tailor it to those who enjoy a little more heat and/or zest in their salad. Place a small bowl of extra cut chilli and cut lime wedges next to the salad to serve. This way everyone can top up if they need to.
Our easy Chilli Charred Corn and Red Papaya Salsa with dijon lime dressing will bring all the summer vibes with a pop of happy colours and delicious tropical flavours! YUM.
More Savoury Salads with Fruit:
Chilli Charred Corn and Red Papaya Salsa
- 3 corn
- 2 baby gem lettuce
- 1 red papaya, medium
- 1 cucumber, continental
- 1 chilli, long, Thai
- 1 lime
- 1 spring spring onion
- ½ bunch coriander
- Preheat grill to medium-hot heat. With a basting brush, coat corn with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on grill pan and cook for 15 minutes or until well charred. Remove from grill pan to cool.
- When cooled, stand corn on its bottom, hold the tip, then using a sharp knife and cut corn from cob by running knife from top to bottom. Place in large mixing bowl.
- Cut the papaya lengthwise and then use a spoon and scoop out all the black seeds in the middle. Cut the papaya again in half so you have 4 quarters. Turn the papaya onto the cut side, use a sharp knife and remove skin from flesh. Then slice the papaya into small 1.5cm cubes. Place cut papaya into a large mixing bowl with corn.
- Peel cucumber and then cut into long strips lengthwise. Then hold tightly together and cut into 1cm pieces. Place cucumber into large mixing bowl.
- Cut chilli in half lengthwise and thinly slice into small rounds. Add cut chilli to the large mixing with other ingredients.
- Wash and roughly chop coriander leaves. Set aside for assembly.
- Wash and pull apart baby cos lettuce leaves. Set aside for assembly.
- Slice spring onion into small rounds.
- Simple dressing with a lot of zing. Place olive oil, dijon mustard, lime juice, honey, salt & pepper in a mason jar and give it a good shake.
- In the large mixing bowl, mix charred corn, papaya, cucumber and chilli together. Add dressing to the bowl and mix well so all ingredients are well covered by dressing.
- Scatter ¾ coriander leaves and give it another mix.
- To serve, scoop some of the salad into individual baby gem lettuce cups and place them on a large serving plate.
- Then with the remainder of the salad, tumble into large bowl and placed baby gem lettuce leaves on one side so guests can also help themselves to more.
- Scatter the remaining coriander leaves across the pre-loaded lettuce cups and the bowl of salsa.
- Place extra cut chilli and lime wedges next to salad for guests to top up if required.
- If red papaya is not available, you could substitute with mango or even good ol’ avocado as they both will work. Slightly different flavours but they both pair well with charred corn.
- Can adjust this salad according to your taste. If you prefer more zing, up the lime or if prefer more heat, add more chilli.
- Can be easily transported in a large container. You can then scoop into baby cos lettuce cups when you are serving.
- To make this recipe vegan, replace honey with maple syrup.