Raw papaya is a very popular ingredient in Thailand. It’s not only a part of the famous Thai papaya salad, but it can also be cooked as curry or stew. Raw papaya has an enzyme that helps tenderizing meat so it is often pair up with beef in Asian stew.
I love raw papaya in spicy and sour curry. When raw papaya is cooked until soft, it is slightly sweet and mixed very well into the fish curry. You can add whole fish into the curry to add more flavor. I used mackerels and deep fried them first before adding to the fish curry at the end, to add slightly crunchy texture into the fish.
Hot and Sour Fish and Green Papaya Curry
500 gm mackerel- clean and make a few slit both sides of the fish
200 gm raw papaya- peeled and roughly sliced into small pieces
Oil for deep frying
4-6 dried red chili- soaked hot water
4 cloves garlic
1 stalk lemon grass- sliced
3 tbsp chopped Krachai (Finger root or Thai ginger)
2 tbsp tamarind paste
2 tbsp fish sauce or to taste
1 tbsp sugar
- Deep fried whole mackerels in hot oil until golden brown and keep aside. Discard the bones of one fish and reserve the meat. Roughly mash the reserved meat with wooden spoon into a rough paste.
- Add red chili, shallots, garlic, lemon grass and Krachai into food processor, add a little water and blend until smooth paste.
- Bring 2 cup of water to boil, add curry paste and ground fish.
- Add papaya and cook further for 15-20 minutes or until papaya becomes tender.
- Season with fish sauce, tamarind paste and sugar.
- Add deep fried fish and simmer further for a few minutes.
- Serve hot with some rice or rice noodle.
This is a very raw and rustic version of Thai cooking you can find only in the humble village kitchens. The smell of Krachai (Thai wild ginger) is very aromatic. I love when the fish start cracking and mellowing into the curry sauce while serving. We had this flavorful fish curry with some rice, and it was so hot and comforting.