The Jewish holiday of Purim is just around the corner and it’s a holiday that I have always enjoyed. There’s a carnival spirit in the air and communities come together to honor the holiday and one of the many traditions of the day is to send mishloach manot (literally translated as sending portions) which are gifts of food that can be used later in the day for a festive meal. The go-to Purim baskets are often filled with candy, cake or cookies, but that’s simply not how we roll. In previous years, our Purim gift baskets have include home made hummus with fresh baked breads or soup with croutons. The holiday of Purim is a busy day, rich in celebration and tradition – and since 2010, we have had the joy of celebrating our son’s birthday on this holiday so a Purim Basket that can double as an appetizer later in the day. This Papaya and Smoked Salmon Appetizer can be shared as a gift. Pair it with a Sauvignon Blanc for an extra special touch.
There’s a lot to love about this dish, both papaya and smoked salmon scream of decadence and their colors compliment each other nicely. Whether you’re looking for an appetizer for a dinner party or romantic night in, this dish pushes the culinary norm without taking much time to prepare. The first time I saw this dish, I must have been no older than fifteen years old and the papayas, much smaller than the one I found at the store, were cut in half and laden with high end Scottish smoked salmon. Each guest must have had six ounces of smoked salmon on their plate. The budget and weight conscious diner can enjoy this dish with a large portion of fruit and less of the salmon.
Papaya and Smoked Salmon Appetizer
You will need just four ingredients:
- One large papaya
- 8oz lox or scottish smoked salmon
- Three or four limes
- Fresh cracked black pepper
I promised simplicity in this dish. I wasn’t kidding. Start by slicing your papaya into one to two inch slices. Using a spoon, scoop the seeds from the middle. Although most people throw out the seeds, they are edible and have a taste similar to black pepper. In South America the seeds are often eaten as part of a cleanse as they are great for digestive health. You could also germinate the seeds and grow your own Papayas. I did neither of these things.
Roll the smoked salmon loosely and put it in the center of the papaya slice. Squeeze half a lime, covering the papaya and smoked salmon with the juice of the lime. Finally, top the papaya and smoked salmon with some fresh and coarsely ground black pepper.
The Papaya skin in not edible. I like the contrast the skin brings to the dish so I prefer to leave it on, but you could cut it if you prefer. Garnish with slices of lime.
As much as I prefer red wines, there are occasions that justify a bottle of white. You’d usually look to pair smoked salmon with a chardonnay and the Binyamina Reserve Chardonnay (Unoaked) is crisp and fruity and an excellent compliment.
You could also take the Sauvignon Blanc route as the balance of earthy yet fruitiness will go well with the dish bringing out the sweetness of the papaya. I would recommend the Covenant Red C Sauvignon Blanc as this Napa based winery has recently caught the attention of the Wall Street Journal and the LA Times.