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Papaya sauce – a dish that awakens the memories of Westerners

The fish sauce is fragrant, each stalk of papaya is crispy and clear, imbued with the sweetness of cane sugar, a little spicy of chili peppers, and a slight concentration of garlic.

When I was a child, every time I went to the rice crop, I used to follow my grandmother to the fields to bring rice and water for the harvesters. They often praise the delicious home-cooked rice, forgetting to be tired after eating. At noon, spread out a mat sitting under the shade of a cool tree, the wind blows softly, prepare a pot of hot rice, add a bowl of stewed tubers and bones, a plate of braised meat, red watermelon, and indispensable papaya sauce served with sliced ​​bananas, Squeeze the sour lemon slices on top. The Western seasonal meal is like that, but everyone remembers it and craves it.

Papaya sauce – a dish that awakens the memories of Westerners
Papaya sauce, also known as Thai fish sauce, has the main ingredient of papaya mixed with Linh fish sauce or snakehead fish sauce, adding seasoning to taste. Photo: Huynh Nhi

My grandmother had a fishery business, she learned from a neighbor to make the delicious fish sauce in the land of Bay Cheo (Hau Giang). Her mother’s fish sauce plus his farming is enough to support 9 brothers in the family, my mother is the youngest daughter. My mother told me that when I was a child, I often cut water hyacinth leaves, lotus leaves, and mon leaves for my grandmother to sell fish sauce, each time I cut a few pieces of tear (bamboo woven basket) full but not enough because the fish sauce is expensive.

By the time Grandma was old and unable to do as much as before, on the occasion of the market, Grandma carried about 3 kg of the retail papaya sauce. Every day when Grandma comes back, the glue is also clean and the money from selling foreign fish sauce is used to buy our grandchildren presents, buy meat, fish, and vegetables to cook meals at home.

In my house, there is always papaya acacia, sometimes eating the fish sauce with boiled meat, eating with pineapple, star fruit, banana, cucumber, raw vegetables of all kinds… Delicious fish sauce stalks Crispy, clear, shiny papaya, imbued with the sweetness of cane sugar, salty fish paste, a little bit of chili pepper and a little bit of garlic makes me remember forever.

Papaya sauce, also known as Thai fish sauce, is sold a lot in Chau Doc market, An Giang, attractively displayed, high quality on the stalls, anyone who visits also wants to buy a little to bring back as a gift. Other provinces like Hau Giang also have it, but with a little difference in the way of doing it and depending on the experience of each person. In addition to papaya fish sauce, which is the main ingredient, there are other types of fish sauce mixed together such as fish sauce, spirit fish or snakehead fish.

More than 30 different fish sauce dishes at Chau Doc market, An Giang. Photo: Quynh Tran

My grandmother used to use Linh fish sauce to make papaya sauce because my grandmother told me that snakehead fish sauce was sold at a high price without making a profit, while choke fish sauce had many bones. Linh fish sauce has a small shape of 2 fingers, the mother does not leave it, but uses scissors to cut diagonally and thin each piece. The fish sauce has a salty and fragrant taste, must be cooked with cane sugar mixed with to reduce the saltiness and add minced garlic and chili to increase the aroma.

Particularly for papaya, if you want a good fish sauce, you must choose duck-billed papaya, the fruit is ripe (ripe), the skin is speckled with yellow in some places, the inside is light pink like a copper speculum, crispy and has a sweet taste. Papaya peeled, washed and then grated, mixed with salt foam in a balanced amount so that the papaya fibers are evenly absorbed and then squeezed out. This method helps papaya clean plastic, soft stalks are easier to absorb spices. At this time, take the garlic and mince it, and the buffalo horn chili will remove the seeds and cut them into separate strands.

Papaya sauce, in addition to the salty taste of Linh fish sauce, needs to add a harmonious sweetness of sugar, but the best is using cane sugar, which has a dark sandy yellow color. We were excited when we saw Grandma cook sugar on the stove, raw cane sugar bought by her mother in kilograms and then beamed, put the cast iron pot on the firewood stove. Each piece of melted sugar released a sweet aroma throughout the neighborhood, making us keep sniffing. Foreigner lifted the pot of sugar to the stove, added boiling water, stirred well, the sugar water thickened and then let it cool.

At this time, the papaya has been squeezed out, the fish sauce, garlic, and chili are put in the same large bowl and then mixed well, mixed anywhere except scooped cane sugar, then go there to let the water seep into each crunchy papaya strand and fish sauce. The salty and spicy taste of chili and the strong smell of fresh garlic blend together.

Papaya sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for a long time and the fish sauce is not sour. Photo: Huynh Nhi

After mixing, the glue is removed, then put into the rich fish sauce, weaving through the papaya fibers, for the next day to absorb the taste or a few more days to eat it.

Papaya sauce is easy to eat, just serve it with hot white rice, add a piece of soft boiled meat and it will bring rice to life. Or just a thinly sliced ​​fresh cucumber, a few slices of star fruit, a few pieces of acrid banana, raw vegetables of all kinds such as lettuce, lettuce, herbs… sandwiched with crispy papaya sauce, sweet and rich in flavor. Spicy, salty fish sauce is also delicious enough.

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