Scrumptious Saturdays: Filipino Atsara (Pickled Papaya)


Just like a salsa, top your favorite fish or chicken with this yummy condiment.

Being a lifestyle blog, it can’t all be about design and style. Food is my lifestyle. Amazing decoration must come with amazing food to enjoy it with. A Saturday in our household is a slow, recovery day from the week. It is a time to recover or rejuvenate before Sunday starts preparing us for the upcoming week. I take this day as a day that is centered around food. We make visits to the Farmer’s Market, groceries, and new restaurants to really relish amazing food.

Today, as my first recipe post, I thought it appropriate since I am Filipino, to post an easy, unique, and refreshing recipe centered around Papaya. Atsara is such a delicious version of salsa from the Pacific. It is so versatile that it can be used on top of fish, chicken, or combined with tofu in a lettuce wrap if you are going the vegan/vegetarian route. Enjoy!


  • One medium sized green (unripe) papaya, shredded
  • 2 medium sized carrots, julienned
  • 1 medium sized red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 5 cloves of garlice, thinly sliced
  • 2 to 3 inches of ginger, cut into strips
  • 1 medium sized onion, sliced thinly lengthwise
  • 1 Tbsp whole peppercorn
  • 1/4 cup salt (for cleaning and dehydrating papaya)
  • Marinade:
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • Approximately 3 medium sized mason/canning jars for storage

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1. Place shredded papaya in a large bowl and mix it well with 1/4 cup salt. Scrub the papaya shreds together in order to really get the salt to soften them up. Do this thoroughly until all the shreds are covered in salt. Set aside.



2. Bring the vinegar to a boil in a saucepan, then add the sugar, 1 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp turmeric. Stir well until everything is diluted. Add half of the sliced ginger, half of the sliced garlic, half of the whole peppercorns to the pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about ten minutes. Let it cool.


3. Remember that papaya marinating in the salt? Place the shreds in a strainer and then rinse well under running water to wash all the salt off. Squeeze the papaya shreds until all the liquid comes out. There is a lot of squeezing involved. You may have to do it more than once until the shreds are dry.


4. Put the papaya shreds back in the bowl and combine the carrots, red bell pepper, onions, and the remaining garlic, ginger, and peppercorn. Mix well.


5. Pour the cooled marinade over the papaya mixture and mix well.



6. Prepare your mason jars or some other airtight container you have available. Pour the Atsara in the containers and refrigerate at least 24 hours before consuming.


My favorite way to prepare meals using this Atsara recipe is with fish, especially tilapia. Steamed, fried, or broiled, the neutral taste of tilapia absorbs the flavors and I serve it with a side of white jasmine rice. If you are having grilled chicken, this is also a winner to serve with the meat. Atsara usually lasts about two weeks in the fridge, but it usually disappears in two or three days in our house. If you have pretty jars, give them as gifts to friends. They would probably appreciate the refreshing taste of papaya during the Spring and Summer seasons.

I would love to know what you topped your Atsara with!

A special thank you to my lovely mom, who prepared this recipe, so I could document each loving step put into it. 


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