September is National Papaya Month. I just found this out, but you all probably knew that. Who decides this sort of thing, I wonder? Well, if we’re going to honor the papaya, then let’s see what we can do with this lovely, velvety, rich fruit other than eat it for breakfast. Savory. That’s what I was looking for. And this sauce is savory, rich, subtly sweet and has a wonderful texture. Yes, Virginia, sauce can and does, many times, have texture. Feel free to purée this. I haven’t found the blender or the immersion blender, a.k.a., the motor boat, in the boxes yet, so I left the sauce chunky. I think I might actually prefer it that way, but when I find the appropriate appliance, I give it a whirl and we’ll see.
I’ve said that it’s all about the sauce so frequently you’re probably looking to “do a Van Gogh” on your ears, but papaya seemed like it should make a great sauce. It has all the properties and I wanted something savory to compliment this nice piece of salmon I had. So, I made a Pan-Seared Coffee-Rubbed Salmon with Sesame Seed Crust. The coffee was a nice foil for the papaya…very tropical pairing, coffee and papaya…very Florida!
In reality, I made this sauce up as I went along. Goddess’s do that sort of thing; we’ve talked about this before. This isn’t just a Goddess thing; you can do this, too. This is our goal when we cook with abandon!
After the salmon was seared and just done, I removed it to a plate and put it aside. Then, I wiped the pan out with some paper toweling, added a bit of oil and butter and pan-fried some very ripe, sweet plantains. They go so very well with salmon. After that, it was sauce time.
I decided to add some scallions to the skillet, along with the chopped papaya. Sauté that mixture over medium heat for maybe two minutes, then pour in the cream and a dab of tomato paste. The tomato paste enhances the color and add complexity to the finished sauce. Boil it up until the mixture thickens slightly, about 30-60 seconds. Taste and correct the seasoning. When I tasted, I thought it needed a bit of acid, so I squeezed some lime juice in and a bit of grated lime zest. Then, to finish it all off, a little squeeze of sriracha sauce and it’s ready to devour. It took much longer to cook the Black Jasmine Rice than it did to prepare both the Pan-Seared Coffee-Rubbed Salmon with Sesame Seed Crust and the Papaya-Scallion Cream Sauce!
Papaya-Scallion Cream Sauce
- 3/4 cup diced ripe papaya
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoons garlic granules
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoons freshly ground mulling spice (see NOTE)
- 1-2 teaspoons oil or butter
- 3-4 scallions, chopped
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 1/2 teaspoons tomato paste
- 1-2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice (or more to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest (or to taste)
- 1-2 teaspoons sriracha sauce (or to taste)
- 1 tablespoons finely minced fresh cilantro, basil, or thyme (optional)
In a small bowl, combine the papaya, salt, garlic granules and mulling spice; stir and set aside for about 5-10 minutes.
Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the oil or butter; add the scallions and papaya mixture. Stir and cook for about 2 minutes, until the onion and papaya soften slightly. Pour in the heavy cream; swirl the pan a couple of times. Add the tomato paste, the lime juice, zest; stir until combined. Continue to cook until the sauce thickens to the desired consistency. Remove from the heat; add the sriracha and herb(s), if using. Stir and serve immediately.
NOTE: I put mulling spice in a pepper grinder. It grinds well and is nice to use all year long; it worked well with this combination. If you want a smooth sauce, simply give it a whirl in the blender, food processor or use an immersion blender. Once it’s smooth, serve it immediately or cool, cover and chill. You may reheat the sauce in the microwave on 50% power, for about 30-60 seconds. If you are planning on using an immersion blender, then make the sauce in a saucepan, rather than a skillet. Papaya is lovely, but not so lovely splattered all over your kitchen walls!
Papaya-Scallion Cream Sauce Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2016. All rights reserved.
This could be a mid-week meal that will make you feel like you’ve splurged at a fancy eatery. And it took you almost no time. This sauce “translates”. Swap out the papaya for mango, peaches, nectarines, pineapple, etc., or a combination of fruits. You’ll want soft, pulpy fruit, that’s dead ripe for full flavor. Use lemon or orange zest and/or juice instead of, or with, the lime. I didn’t add any fresh herbs, because I wasn’t feelin’ it, but I think this would be sublime with cilantro or basil.
This is also a perfect sauce to use for grilled salmon, shrimp or other fish. You don’t really need any pan drippings and you can make this early in the day, chill it an reheat it when you’re ready to serve. Enjoy!