Athara is a Filipino side dish, or condiment, that is pickled and contains an array of awesome vegetables, including my favorite, unripened green papaya. The same green papaya that is used in one of my favorite Thai/Lao salads, som tam. The great thing about this atchara recipe is that it is easy to make, and the flavors will simply blow your mind. It is pickled in vinegar, salt, and spickes, and it has a great crunch, and goes awesome with grilled meats. Granted you will be taking fork fulls from the refrigerator on its own but when you pair it with any grilled meat such as chicken, pork, or beef, well it enhances the entire experience.
Let’s get started.
Ingredients for the pickling liquid:
- 2 cups of vinegar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
Ingredients for the vegetables:
- 1 1/2 cup shredded unripe papapya
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 10 cloves garlic, skins removed, lightly smashed
- 1 medium to large carrot, shredded
- 1 thumb sized piece of ginger, skin removed, julienned
- 6 whole shallots, skins removed, thinly sliced
- 1 small red pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 small green pepper, thinly sliced
- small handful raisins
Start by adding the vinegar and sugar to a small saucepan and bring it to medium heat. The goal is to dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar is dissolved, only a few minutes, turn off the heat and set the pan to the side.
Now for a bit of the prep work. The shredding and slicing. Consider it training. Always training. If you are into papaya salads, there is this nice little shredder that you can find in an Asian market, or possibly online. You have to remove the outer skin of the papaya before you can get into the meat of the papaya. It is a bit like peeling a potato but just a bit awkward. Once you have removed the skin, you can begin shredding the papaya. Shred enough of the papaya without getting too far into the center where there are the seeds. Put the shredded papaya into a large bowl, then sprinkle with the kosher salt. Thoroughly toss the papaya to get the salt introduced. This process is similar to that of salting cucumbers. The goal is to remove as much moisture as possible. Let this set while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
After all of your ingredients are prepped, add them to a large bowl. Now back to the papaya. Take a big handful and squeeze the crap out of it over the bowl or over the kitchen sink. Plenty of water should come out of it. Squeeze. Then add the papaya into the bowl with the other ingredients. Do the same with the remaining papaya.
Mix all of the ingredients really well.
Now take a large, sterile jar, the bigger the better (eye ball what you have and what you can jam into a jar) and start stuffing the jar, all the way to the top. Once full, pour in the vinegar and sugar solution and fill to the top. Cover and let sit in the refrigerator to pickle three days, or better yet up to a week.
After a week you are ready to crack into the atchara. Take a heaping forkful and serve on its own as a side, or even better fry up some chicken or grill up some meat and serve alongside that. You shouldn’t be disappointed. Hope you enjoy!