Could you pick a red papaya from a pawpaw?

Recipe: Papaya prawn salad with nuoc nam chan dressing

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SUPER IDEA: Prawn and papaya salad, by Louise Edney from Nourishing Nosh.

SUPER IDEA: Prawn and papaya salad, by Louise Edney from Nourishing Nosh.


Move over mango, add some tropical flavour to your table with Aussie-grown red papaya, packed with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.


IT'S the tropical fruit that's been dubbed a superfood, and yet nine out of 10 Aussie households don't eat red papaya.

That's according to Richard Clayton of MacKay's Marketing - a family business which has been farming tropical fruits in Far North Queensland since 1945

The MacKay family has been predominantly focused around bananas and avocados but a decade ago collaborated with growers to expand into red papaya.

"Our Ruby Rise Red Papaya is an amazingly healthy way to bring colour and tropical flavour to your breakfast table and everyday recipes," he said.

Mr Clayton said despite the nutritional benefits of red papaya - being hailed by some as the "next mango" - there is still a lack of knowledge around how to prepare and eat red papaya, plus an unfamiliarity with the taste and confusion with paw paw.

So here's what you need to know about this often overlooked tropical superfruit (plus a delicious recipe to try at home):

How do they grow?

Originally hailing from Central America, red papaya trees are unique in that they produce fruit every month of the year (starting about 10 months after planting). This means they're always 'in season'.

Red papayas grow in 'columns of fruit' around each tree trunk. Twice a week the team at MacKay's pick one or two Ruby Rise red papayas by hand, taking care to only pick fruit at the perfect stage of maturity (mainly green with a tinge of yellow) that way they're sure to ripen with a sweet flavour.

The freshly picked red papaya are given a cold water bath before being checked by hand for any blemishes or damage.

How to choose the best papaya

The best indicator of ripeness and sweetness is the red papaya's skin colour. The skin of red papayas vary from green to a golden yellow and will continue to ripen once picked. The yellower the skin, the sweeter the taste.

Red papayas ripen best outside the fridge. Once they have a golden yellow skin colour feel free to pop them in the fridge for up to four days.

Papaya or pawpaw?

Their names might be pretty similar but your tastebuds will thank you for knowing the difference. Ruby Rise Red Papaya are oval shaped, have juicy red flesh and a sweet tropical scent and flavour. Pawpaw's are less sweet, have a yellower flesh and are rounder in shape.

How to eat it.

Ruby Rise red papaya is a nutritious and versatile fruit with silky soft fleh and edible peppery seeds. Try is simply sliced with a squeeze of lime, tossed through salads, paired with antipasto or cooked in a variety of dishes. Red papaya is also a perfect partner for savoury ingredients like seafood and chicken, cheese and salads.

Nutritional benefits

Red papayas contain some of the highest vitamin C levels found in any fruit. In fact, a single serve of red papaya provides more than double your daily vitamin C needs.

Along with vitamin C, red papayas include antioxidants such as carotenes, flavonoids, the B group of vitamins, folate and pantothenic acid. These essential elements are both crucial for healthy body function and help prevent illness.

Nutrient-rich but low in kilojoules and fat means that red papayas provide filling yet guilt-free snacking. Red papayas are also a good source of both soluble and insoluble fibre, essential for healthy digestion.

They also contain a rich bundle of skin-protective nutrients, helping give the skin a beautiful glow. And with a moderate glycaemic index, red papayas are fantastic for providing sustained energy throughout your day. The edible and highly nutritious seeds are also abundant in phytochemicals - compounds produced in plants that are believed to protect cells from damage that could lead to cancer.

Papaya prawn salad with nuoc nam chan dressing and papaya aioli

This is a decadent salad, perfect for a weekend lunch with friends. The aioli can be made in advance and pairs beautifully with chicken and seafood. The salad serves two.



  • 10 large tiger prawns, peeled, tails on
  • 1 cup shredded purple cabbage
  • 1 large carrot, grated on an Asian grater
  • 1 cup plucked mint leaves
  • 1 cup plucked coriander leaves
  • 1/2 red capsicum, finely sliced (or 1/2 punnet grape tomatoes, sliced in half lengthways)
  • 1/4 Spanish onion, finely sliced
  • 1/2 papaya (500g) shave about 10 slivers, dice remainder
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 1/2 avocado, diced
  • 1 cup (50g dry) cooked, cooled, mung bean vermicelli, cut (optional)

Dressing (nuoc nam chan)

  • 1 clove garlic finely chopped
  • 1 long red chilli, seeded & chopped
  • 1 - 2 tsp, light palm sugar
  • 1/4 cup Lime Juice
  • 1/4 cup Fish sauce

Red Papaya Aioli

  • 3 very fresh organic egg yolks
  • 1 long red chilli, deseeded, roughly chopped
  • Zest of 2 limes
  • 40 - 80ml lime juice
  • 100ml cooked reduced papaya* (cooled)
  • 100ml grapeseed oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes


*For the Papaya Reduction

  1. Cut the papaya in half lengthways and scoop out the seeds.
  2. Peel the papaya and puree it in a food processor.
  3. Weigh a large saucepan and record its weight.
  4. Transfer the papaya to the saucepan and weigh it. Record the weight of the Papaya
  5. Cook over medium heat stirring occasionally until the papaya has reduced by over half (~45 minutes). 1kg fresh papaya will yield around 450g reduced.

For the aioli

  1. Place egg yolks, chilli, 40ml lime juice and zest in a food processor and process until creamy. You may need to scrape the sides of the food processor occasionally to incorporate all of the ingredients.
  2. Add the papaya reduction. Mix again.
  3. With the motor running, drizzle in the grapeseed oil, a teaspoon at a time to start with, then in a slow continuous drizzle.
  4. Once thick and creamy, season with salt and pepper.
  5. Taste and add more lime juice as desired. Store in the fridge in a clean jar for up to 5 days.

For the dressing

  1. In a mortar, pound together finely chopped garlic and chilli to a smooth paste.
  2. Add the sugar to increase the grinding action. Stir in liquids and adjust to taste. If prepping ahead, add lime juice just before serving.

For the Salad

  • Prepare the salad ingredients as per the list.
  • Combine cabbage, carrot, herbs, capsicum, Spanish onion, cucumber and papaya cubes (and vermicelli if using) in a bowl and refrigerate until needed.
  • Just before serving, add half of the dressing to the salad and toss gently to coat. Add more dressing if needed.
  • Divide the salad between 2 plates and top with the papaya slices, avocado and prawns.
  • Add some dollops of papaya aioli and serve with extra dressing and aioli.

Recipe created by Lou Edney from for Ruby Rise Papaya

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