Okinawa Tourism Information:Serial/IslandBlessings,IslandFlavorsPart7Papaya

Serial / Island Blessings, Island Flavors Part 7 Papaya

post : 2014.05.12 13:00

Sea breeze brings you the aroma of green papaya.  It is telling the summer is coming!  When we see the fruit with incredibly beautiful curves appearing on the market, we feel excited for no reasons.
South America and Southeast Asia is well known for papaya’s places of origin, but Okinawa produces 60% of papayas for domestic shipping.
Around this season, you see trees loaded with  green papaya fruits at private houses or in fields.

The fruit is called “papaiya”or “papaia” in Japanese, but people on the main Okinawa island call it “papayaa” with lengthening the end of the word a little. The intonation sounds comfortable as that found in the languages of Thailand or Vietnam.
On remote islands like Yaeyama Islands, Miyako Island, Yoron Island, they call the fruit “manjui,””manjuugi,” or “banshooui” in different ways from place to place. 

Papaya is popular as fruit, but in Okinawa and South East Asia like Thailand or Vietnam, it has been used as a vegetable.  In Okinawa, it has been said that if you eat a green papaya, it helps you make more milk. Still now women after childbirth eat green papayas often.

When I talk with neighbors about how to cook vegetables, I often hear them saying

“Let’s eat by doing shirishirii the vegetable.”


“Do you want to shirishirii the vegetable?”   The conversation is puzzling to me.

“What is shirishirii?”I asked them.“Shirishirii means to cut a vegetable into thin strips.” They continued, “Some people say shirishirii with lengthening the end and others say it short shirishiri.”

Not only for green papayas, they say “shirishirisuru”for slicing vegetables like carrots, daikon (Japanese radish) into thin strips. You can find this slicer, shirishiriki sold in a hardware store or a DIY shop.  You can choose a shirishiriki according to the size of holes. When I found an excellent shirishiriki with either side you can shirishiri into different thickness of strips, I was impressed inwardly :”Wow!  The utensil has been formed into the desired shape.”  Before I was aware of it, I have a basic shirishiriki and a tough, excellent shirishiriki at home.


After doing shirishiri for green papayas, put them in water and remove harshness from the papayas to prepare marinated dishes or stir-fry dishes.
A green papaya dish commonly found in na Okinawan cuisine diners is a stir-fry dish called “Papaya Irichii ,”which is stir-fried with tuna and slices of pork and simply simmered in katsuodashi (soup stock made from bonito flakes).

Speaking of the taste of mother’s cooking in Okinawa, not a few people say papaya irichi.
Also you can cook them for preserved food, pickled with wasabi (grated horse radish), or lightly pickled.  I want to try to pickle them this year!

My recommendation for this season when we have summer-like temperature often is a marinated dish with refreshing flavor.  Shikuwasa (Citrus depressa Hayata) is a perfect match with a green papaya but shikuwasa is not in season yet. So this time let me introduce you a papaya dish marinated with passion fruit, which is in season now and “Shikuwasa Pepper with Island Hot Pepper,” which is recommended for a souvenir from Okinawa.

【Papaya Dishes Marinated with Passion Fruit with Shiikuwasa Pepper Flavor】

Ingredients: (for 4 servings)

* 1 Green papaya
* 1 cilantro
* 2-3 Hatsuka Daikon (the small garden radish)   (thinly-sliced)
  (One good option here is to use small tomatoes are fine for adding color)


* 2 Passion fruit
* 1 Garlic
* 5 to 6 Dried shrimps
* a half cup cashew nuts (One good option here is to use peanuts.)
* 2 tablespoons Nam pla (Please adjust the volume according to the size of papayas)
* 2 to 3 teaspoons (depends on your favorite hot flavor) “Shikuwasa Pepper with Island Hot Pepper” (According to your taste, yuzu
   lime pepper or takanotsume red pepper are also good options.)  


1. Peel green papayas, cut them in half 2 lengthwise and do shirishiri.
2. Put sliced papayas in water for a while and remove harshness.
3. Cut passion fruits in half lengthwise, remove seeds with spoon, and place them into a bowl.
4. Add minced garlic, dried shrimps, cashew nuts, and Shikuwasa Pepper with Island Hot Pepper into the bowl 3 and mix them
5. Drain the water from papayas, add the papayas, minced cilantro, and thinly-sliced hatsuka daikon into the mixture 4 and mix
   them very well until they are well incorporated. Place papaya mixture into each serving bowl and it is ready to eat!

This time I used a shirishiriki for slicing into rather-thick strings so that you can fully enjoy the crisp texture of green papayas.
The freshening sweetness and acidic flavor of passion fruit brings the subtropical flavor to dressing or marinated dishes.

Shikuwasa Pepper with Island Hot Pepper, which has a great flavor of shikuwasa, come in handy for udon, soba, nabe (pot dishes) as a kick.
Please try one as a souvenir from Okinawa!

Okinawa CLIP Photo Writer  monobox (Tetsumasa and Kozue Kono)