Atchara (Pickled Green Papaya)

Atchara (Pickled Green Papaya)

Hello Everyone! One more day until the end of April, which means that this will be my last recipe from the Philippines on our journey through the Flavours of Southeast Asia. I most definitely had fun tackling healthier alternatives of classic and much loved Pinoy dishes, as well as celebrating Amcarmen’s Kitchen turning seven years old!

Tonight, I’ll be sharing a recipe in response to a challenge that my friend brought up in our exclusive interview. It started off with her asking me if there are any ingredients that I would never cook with on my blog, to which I responded with: raisins, cucumber, and cilantro. She then hit me with a surprise challenge which is to make a dish with at least two of the three ingredients that I listed – something that I would have to like and eat!

To quote her:

“…something that you had previously found to be a negative experience, is going to be turned into a positive experience, so I’m changing your life!”

And here’s my response; no twists or a fancy remake of this side dish, just straight up, humble atchara. Atchara (also spelled achara or atsara) is a pickle made typically out of grated unripe papaya. Other vegetables such as carrots, capsicum (bell pepper), onion, garlic, and ginger are also added to make up this pickle. Raisins may also be added, but are optional.

Atchara (Pickled Green Papaya)

All of these are then mixed together in a solution of vinegar, sugar, and salt. The key is finding the right balance of sourness and sweetness in the pickling solution. It is then placed in airtight jars where it will keep without refrigeration, however once opened it is preferably kept chilled to maintain its flavour. Ideally, you’ll want the atchara to mature for about a week before consuming it, for it to fully develop its flavour. The longer you keep it, the better it tastes. Once opened, you can keep it in the fridge for up to two months.

Atchara is usually served with grilled or fried dishes; I like to have atchara as an accompaniment to fried fish to give it a little more life. Technically it goes well with any meal that is fatty and salty, as the sharpness of the atchara helps cut through that greasy aftertaste in your mouth.

Since the challenge is to make a dish that includes two of the three ingredients that I dislike the most, the atchara that I will be sharing with everyone tonight includes cucumbers and raisins. The Southeast Asian variations of atchara, or as they collectively call it in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei, acar, is mainly made of pickling cucumbers together with carrots and shallot, sometimes even daikon. I’ve had this version of acar when I was living in Brunei, and it was actually delicious as an accompaniment to various fried dishes!

Atchara (Pickled Green Papaya) Ingredients

PREP TIME 1 HOUR 30 MINS | COOKING TIME 10 MINS | MAKES 3 JARS*

*I had jars of varying sizes, but if I were to estimate, I think they’d fit into about 3 medium-sized jars.

INGREDIENTS

For the pickle

  • 1 medium unripe papaya, shredded
  • 1 small carrot, sliced
  • 1 small cucumber, sliced
  • 1 small red capsicum, sliced thinly
  • 1 packet (50g) raisins
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • Spring onion stalks

For the pickling solution

  • 1 & 1/2 cups white vinegar
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
  • 1 small-sized brown onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 thumb-sized ginger, julienned
  • 1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp salt

METHOD

  1. Combine the shredded papaya together with the salt in a medium-sized mixing bowl, setting it aside to sit for about an hour or until the papaya starts to release its liquid. Then place the shredded papaya in a cheesecloth and firmly squeeze to get rid of any excess juices.
  2. Pickling Solution: Meanwhile, in a small-sized saucepan over medium heat, combine the vinegar, sugar, and salt and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 3 to 5 minutes, or until the sugar has completely dissolved. Stir occasionally.
  3. Add the whole black peppercorns ginger, garlic, and onions. Continue to cook for a further 2 to 3 minutes. Once done, set aside to cool down slightly.
  4. Atchara: Combine the shredded papaya together with all the prepared vegetables into a large mixing bowl. Add the warm pickling solution and gently toss to combine. Cover and set aside to completely cool down.
  5. Once cool, transfer the atchara into sterilised jars with tight-fitting lids. You may keep them on the countertop or immediately place them in the fridge for about a week to let the flavours develop before serving.
  6. Serve, cold or at room temperature, with your choice of fried and/or grilled meat/seafood. Enjoy!

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The verdict? I definitely loved the pickled cucumbers, in fact I always scoop out for them for every serving. The raisins? I don’t know; there’s just something about them that I don’t like and I can’t explain it. I tried one and after that, I still picked them out.

Atchara (Pickled Green Papaya)

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Pritong Bangús Steak (Fried Milkfish Steak)

Pritong Bangús Steak (Fried Milkfish Steak)

Hello Everyone and sorry for a very late post tonight (or more like just past midnight by the time I am done with the post)! I spent the day bringing my family around to Bondi Beach and Maroubra Beach despite the gloomy weather. We managed to visit the beaches and take some photographs before it started to pour. After that, we chilled around at my friend’s place before finally heading off to the airport; I said my goodbyes to my Mom and my two younger sisters. Safe travels! They’ll be in Kuala Lumpur for about 7-hours, and then finally arriving in Brunei the next day in the afternoon. I just finished editing and uploading my graduation photos on Facebook, and now I am writing this post. I thought of just going to bed since I am quite tired, but I felt bad for not even attempting to write a post for tonight/today. Anyway, I’ll make it quick if I can; I’ll probably end up taking the long route and explaining some components of the dish that may be unfamiliar to some people.

Pritong Bangús Steak (Fried Milkfish Steak) Ingredients

Bangús (or Milkfish) is the national fish of the Philippines. They are notorious for being much bonier than other fish, which is why deboned milkfish, called “boneless bangús” in the Philippines, has become popular in stores and markets. There are many ways in which you can use this fish to create many loved home-cooked Filipino dishes, and I will show you two/three easy ways to prepare the milkfish for a tasteful lunch or dinner. Pritong Bangús (fried milkfish) is a simple dish that is packed with flavours. The milkfish alone has its deliciously rich taste, especially the belly, but the marinade enhances its flavour with a hint of sourness and spiciness. The bangús belly is my favourite part of the fish, especially when it is fried. I would always fight for the bigger piece of belly, or I would always make sure that I get the bigger share of the belly. In an ideal world, the belly would be ALL mine.

Pritong Bangús Steak (Fried Milkfish Steak) Ingredients

PREP TIME 8 HOURS* | COOKING TIME 12 MINS | SERVES 2-3

*Minimum. Up to 12 or even better, overnight in the fridge for marination time.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large boneless bangus (milkfish); scales removed, cleaned and butterflied
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2-3 red bird’s eye chillies, cut in half
  • 1 large red spanish onion, cut into rings
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 2 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • Juice of 2-3 calamansi

METHOD

  1. Combine chillies, vinegar, garlic, whole peppercorns, and salt in a large container. Give it a good stir to combine the ingredients before laying down the fish skin side up. Cover the container and place in the fridge to marinate for about 8 to 12 hours, or even better, overnight to soak up all the flavours.
  2. Heat about 1 cup of oil in a large frying pan (preferably with a lid)** over medium-high. Fry both sides of the bangús until each side turns medium brown in colour. Once cooked, place on a serving plate. You can enjoy the fried bangús just like this with some steamed rice and atchara*** on the side, or you can add a few more ingredients to further heighten the flavour of the dish.
  3. Tip the oil out into an empty jar (you can reuse for your next frying adventure) from the same frying pan, leaving about a tablespoon or two. Fry the onions until soft and then turn the heat off. Add in the soy sauce and give it a good stir, about 1-2 minutes, and the pour the mixture over the fried bangús. Squeeze the juice from the calamansi over the fish and serve!

Pritong Bangús Steak (Fried Milkfish Steak)

Pritong Bangús Steak (Fried Milkfish Steak) Ingredients

**Caution: take care when frying as the oil has a tendency to splatter because of the liquid from the marinade. Make sure to cover the frying pan while leaving open a small space for the steam to escape.

***Atchara or Atcharang Papaya is basically pickled julienned or grated green papaya and soaked for a week in cooked vinegar and sugar mixture with onions, garlic, ginger, pepper corn, and red bell pepper.

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com