VIDEO: Okinawa Kitchen - Papaya pickles great topping for rice

Photos by Shoji Kudaka
Photos by Shoji Kudaka

VIDEO: Okinawa Kitchen - Papaya pickles great topping for rice

by Shoji Kudaka
Stripes Okinawa

Growing up on Okinawa, I enjoyed papaya more often as a vegetable than as a fruit. Every once in a while, I would have some of the ripe orange fleshy fruit, but mostly it was ao papaya (blue papaya in Japanese) or green papaya we’d have at home.

Papaya irichi, a stir-fried papaya dish, was one my mother cooked up often with the unripened ao papaya. As a child who was not a big fan of vegetables, hearing the word “papaya” would make my face cloud over. However, in hindsight, I can’t appreciate my mother enough for serving up dishes with this delicious vegetable because it is one of the healthiest foods you can have.

According to Japan Agricultural Cooperatives (JA), the fruit/vegetable is rich in vitamin C, minerals, and an enzyme called “papain,” which dissolves fat. Thus, papaya is drawing attention as a diet food, JA says. 

Some, like the Japan Superfoods Association (JSA), give papaya a superstar treatment by ranking it as number one among superfoods in 2020. The JSA said ao papaya touts benefits such as support for digestion, enhancement of immune strength, and facilitated recovery after exercise.

Enjoy all the benefits of ao papaya at home with this great recipe to make this healthy food into a tasty pickle. All the ingredients are available at local supermarkets, takes only about an hour to prepare and will have you enjoying the salty-sweet flavor right away.

The pickles would be a great gohan-no-otomo (rice escort in Japanese) or try it as an appetizer for alcohol.

There is nothing wrong with eating papaya fruit, but you’re missing out on its health benefits before it ripens. Give it a try!

Ingredients (for a jar of pickles)

  • Ao Papaya 1 kg
  • Sakiika (dried shredded squid) 33g
  • Shio Konbu (salted kelp) 33g
  • Ginger 33g
  • Garlic 33g
  • Soft brown sugar 167cc
  • Ajitsuke-su (seasoned vinegar) 15cc
  • Soy sauce 266cc


1. Rinse papaya with water.

2. Slice off papaya’s skin.

3. Slice papaya into a few chunks and remove seeds. (Slice it into more pieces if necessary). Cut them into thin slices by using a peeler.

4. Soak the slices in water for 10 minutes. Drain the water.

5. Boil water in a pot. Turn off the stove once water boils. Let the slices soak in the hot water for a few minutes. Turn on the stove again before putting the slices in the pot.

6. Drain the hot water.

7. Put the slices in a bowl and mix them with dried shredded squid, salted kelp, sliced ginger and garlic, soft brown sugar, seasoned vinegar, and soy sauce.

8. Put the mixture in a jar. Refrigerated, the pickles will hold for at least a month. Note: Since this recipe doesn’t use a lot of salt, these pickles can go bad quicker in comparison to other pickles.

9. Enjoy it over rice or alone as a healthy tart snack. いただきます (Bon appetite)!

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