Everyday Cooking

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Lasang Pinoy 21- Atsara (Green Papaya Pickle)

Finally, a chance to join Lasang Pinoy, a food blog event dedicated to Filipino fare. I've been keeping an eye out for the latest round's announcement for the longest time. The anniversary theme 'Cooking for Heroes' inspired me to haul myself out of my sick bed, plied with endless cups of salabat and some serious antibiotics, I get on to work in the kitchen. We are talking about our Philippine national heroes here after all. In my own little way, from the heart of my own little kitchen,I shall honour them.

Admittedly, though, my knowledge of Philippine history is a tad rusty. I can rattle off names considered to be 'heroes' but hardly know their story in detail. General Emilio Aguinaldo's is one name I remember well from childhood visits to Biak na Bato, a series of caves in San Miguel ,Bulacan (where both of my parents were born) which the early revolutionaries against the Spaniards used as a place of refuge. The caves later on served as the headquarters of the Philippine revolutionary government. Emilio Aguinaldo became the president of the First Philippine Republic and continued to fight for Philippine independence through to the American occupation.

Thinking of a dish fit for a revolutionary and statesman, the best I thought I could offer is a bottle of atsara. During the days of the revolution, freshly-cooked meals would have been hard to come by. I imagined that dried meat or fish and the occasional produce foraged from the mountains would have been the staple. At Biak na Bato, one of the bigger caves, from memory, is called Bahay Paniki- for the millions of bats that used to inhabit the structure. I dread to think that barbecued 'panikis' were eaten regularly but they would have been a good source of protein for the freedom-fighters. A sweet, sour and refreshing helping of atsara would have made the fighters' meager meals a lot more enjoyable.

Personally, I believe atsara complements a LOT of dishes. From the humble tuyo (dried salted fish) to the special fiesta dishes like lechon (whole roasted pig) and anything fried in between. This relish of green papaya has many variations. When I researched recipes, I found that some people enjoy them as simple as possible with just papaya and carrots while some throw in pineapple or cabbage in the mix. My atsara is similar to those made by an aunt and what I've had from Bulacan- a mix of papaya, carrots, peppers and raisins.
I made half of the batch for immediate consumption, simply pouring the pickling solution over the vegetables in a jar and then refrigerating. The other half, I will be giving away as gifts so I 'pasteurised' in pickling jars with pop lids.


800 g green papaya, grated or julienned
2 medium carrots, grated
1 onion, grated
1 medium red capsicum (pepper), julienned
1 medium green capsicum, julienned
1 c raisins
2 Tbsp salt

2 1/2 c white vinegar
2 c sugar
1 inch piece ginger, julienned
2 cloves garlic sliced thinly
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper

In a large bowl, mix the grated green papaya with the salt. Cover with cling film and leave in the refrigerator overnight.
Meanwhile, the syrup can be prepared by boiling the vinegar and sugar. When the sugar has dissolved, mix in the ginger, garlic and black pepper and let simmer for a further 5 minutes.

When ready, rinse the papaya well. Squeeze as much of the water out as possible by placing the rinsed papaya in a large piece of muslin and wringing it hard. Mix in the rest of the vegetables.
Put the vegetable mix into sterilized jars. Pour in the syrup and remove bubbles by pushing the vegetables down with the back of a spoon. Put lid on jar.

If for immediate consumption, the jar can be put in the fridge and it should last for a week.

If 'preserving', put the jars in a cauldron of lukewarm water, making sure the water level is around 2cm above the jar lids. Bring to a boil and leave on a rolling boil for around 30minutes. Leave the bottles in the cauldron, with water, until completely cool. The pop lids should be flat, meaning a vacuum has been created. Otherwise, repeat the pasteurisation process. This pasteurised atsara should be good in the jar for a couple of months. Refrigerate upon opening.

*Updated 14 Nov
The batch of atsara was well-received by my first guinea pigs:-)
They will definitely make it to this year's Christmas hamper. I am sending this jar over to Zlamushka to put under her tree, as part of the festive event that is 'A Spoonful of Christmas'.


Kate said...

That was an ntresting read on the history of General Emilio :) Its nice that u got up frm sickness to make these .I just adore pickles. The presentation is fantastic. Love the little straw stars u have used. Also these bottles make excellent gifts as u mentioned so i'll be mailing you my add :P.

Marvin said...

Thanks for this post maybahay, my knowledge of philippine history is more lacking than yours;)

Your atsara looks wonderful. I agree with you that it goes well on just about anything.

Anonymous said...


Please leave a note to me on eddieliling@yahoo.com
so we can exchange mommy (i've got 2 little boys) stories ;-)

maybahay said...

thanks kate:-)
unfortunately, the whole batch have gone but will keep you in mind next time i make some.

i am looking forward to the round-up marvin. will definitely learn a thing or two about phil history.

hi anonymous. the email address you left does not seem to be valid. my email bounced :(

Anonymous said...

Hello, it's me Jen.
Sorry, the actual address is eddieliling@yahoo.com.au Forgot the "au" bit.

Gay Carrillo said...

Atsara really goes well with lechon :) I like to make mine with ampalaya.

Have you been to the Biak na Bato caves?

Coffee & Vanilla said...

Desie, it looks delicious and I love presentation and the picture!

Dhanggit said...

thanks for dropping by at my blog....well its first time for me too to participate in Lasang Pinoy..i love your atsara maybe you could send some over here in france..including tuyo coz i badly miss them :-)

maybahay said...

hi gay, Thanks for dropping by.
I haven't had atsara with ampalaya. Sounds very interesting and I love ampalaya.
Yes, I've been to Biak na Bato, last time would have been 18 years ago, though.
We used to spend our summer holidays in Bulacan.

hi margot, thanks. that means a lot to me since you consistently take the greatest photos of your food.

hi dhanggit,my in-laws are visiting here in february. maybe i can send some atsara to you when they go back :-)they live in the corezze department

MikeMina said...

thanks for joining lasang pinoy! hope to see you again in future events . . .

atsara indeed, goes very well with a lot of dishes including tuyo which i've had for dinner tonight with --- atsarang ampalaya no less!

ut-man said...

It’s been years since I made atsara myself. I love your presentation it reminds me that Christmas is now just around the corner.

stef said...

Perfect gift for Christmas. In fact I'm making a batch next week! We like ours with some pineapple chunks:)

randell said...

despite the stares i get, i still have atsara with most of the dishes at home, as long as there's a supply of it in our ref. :)

Em Dy said...

Atsara makes all the difference for dishes that do not taste good. Somehow, it jazzes them up.

zlamushka said...

Hey i love the presentation. why dont you send it over to my Spoonful of Christmas gift event. Pickles are just my thing...

maybahay said...

stef, you're right. they will go in my christmas hampers this year.

randell, the night i made the atsara, i had it on top of pepperoni pizza. truly.

em, atsara does seem to lift the flavour of simple fare, doesn't it?

will do that zlamushka. i have christmas cookies for your event, too

iska said...

Thanks for the recipe Binibining Maybahay. I forgot the last time (and the only time) I cooked atchara. Now I just have to find the time...

Welcome to LP!

iNg said...

i was looking for atsara recipe and i came here at your blog. i'd like to try this for my family and at the same time make a couple more as gifts for my friends... or let's just say samples incase their verdicts are good for me to start selling them. hehehe...

but i'm a little bit confused on how to preserve the atsara so it will stay for a couple of months. like:
- what's cauldron?
- should i use jars with metal caps or i can use the ones with plastics caps?
- do i have buy unsused jars or can i use used jars as long as i clean them well and sterilize them?
- in preserving, do i have to submerge the closed jar of atsara with 2cm water above the lid? if it's closed, will it not explode because of the presure of the boiling water? hehehe...

thank you very much for the recipe.


laidztapsilogan said...


the jar you used is really nice. can you let me know where do you get those? we are planning to sell atsara in our small tapsilogan/tapsiloga business and are having problems sourcing out glass jars..

thank you..

PS. very nice article!

bob smith said...

interesting! as an aussie married to a philippino for the past 21 yrs
this is the first time i've found a philippine receipe that I can use
but then again what would you expect, i'm in aussie land 20 yrs behind the rest of the world ???
you have so many different receipes
to use different produce, it's great, aussies are too lazy to try other countries ideas/receipes, they want everything handed to them on a silver platter plus more.
keep up the good work regards bob Brisbane Australia

bob smith said...

re my comment bob smith said
if you you would like to contact me on other regards/concerns/comments,
please email me at