If you notice, the vegetables and vinegar sauce that topped the escabeche lapu-lapu I prepared a few days share the basic ingredients of atchara. This is because atchara is a form of escabeche, a type of dish where meat, fish or vegetables are marinated in an acidic mixture with vinegar as the usual souring agent. Atchara is a favored condiment in the Philippines and is often served as accompaniment to fried or grilled meats and seafood. The key to this pickled side dish is the right balance of sourness and sweetness in its fermenting juice and I find the ratio of 1-1/2 cups vinegar to 1 cup sugar perfect for my taste. The addition of spices and a few days of maturation in the refrigerator beautifully round up the distinct flavors of this colorful slaw.
I usually make just enough achara for a few days of use. If you want extended life on your atchara, please visit the National Food Center for Home Food Preservation website for more information on safe and proper canning/bottling techniques.
- 1 large unripe (green) papaya, peeled, seeded and grated
- 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon salt
- 1-1/2 cups white vinegar
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 thumb-size ginger, peeled and julienned
- 1 small onion, peeled and sliced thinly
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 1 tablespoon peppercorns
- ½ small red bell pepper, seeded and julienned
- ½ small green pepper, seeded and julienned
- 1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
- ¼ cup raisins
- In a bowl, combine shredded papaya and 2 tablespoons of the salt. Allow to sit for about 1 hour or until papaya begins to release liquid. Place papaya in a cheesecloth and squeeze firmly to dispel juices.
- In a sauce pot over medium heat, combine vinegar, sugar and the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 to 5 minutes or until sugar and salt are dissolved. Add ginger, onions, garlic and peppercorns. Continue to cook for about 2 to 3 minutes.
- In a bowl, combine papaya, bell peppers, carrots and raisins. Add pickling solution and toss gently to combine. In a sterilized jar, transfer atchara and close with tight-fitting lid. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 days to allow flavors to develop before serving.