“I am hungry. Does anyone have a snack I can borrow?”, I said. “Have some papaya”, said my colleagues. “My stomach is upset”, I said. “Have some papaya”, said my neighbors. During my 2 year service with the US Peace Corps in Kenya, rich orange colored papaya popped everywhere I went in my tropical village from the sunrise to sunset. Papaya, which is known to grow especially well in the hot tropical climate, was my essential daily staple that I couldn’t live without during my service there. Sweet, musky and butter-like, this sun-bursting color of tropics is not only delicious, but also has many healthy benefits, including as a great digestive aid. I simply adore papaya.
Every summer in California, the appearance of vibrant sunlit papaya reminds me of my sun drenched tropical days in Africa, and my mouth gets watery. Today, in order to bring this tropical taste to my California kitchen, I’ve decided to make a curried papaya pork soup with farm fresh corn, coconut and ginger.
First, season 1.5 lbs of lean pork loin with some sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and juice from a ½ lime. Grind it in a food processor. Separately, puree 3 lbs ripe papaya (peeled and seeded) and corn kernels from 2 ears of corn with a 14 oz can of coconut milk in a food processor. Next, heat up some 7th taste curry olive oil in a cast iron pot and sauté 1 onion (chopped), a thumb size ginger (peeled and grated) and a couple of mild small green peppers (chopped) for a couple of minutes. Next, add the ground & seasoned pork to the pot and continue sautéing until the pork is cooked. Then, pour the papaya-corn-coconut puree into the pot and bring it to a boil. Season with some sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and juice from a ½ lime. Stir well and simmer for about 5-10 minutes. Finally, serve with some bread or rice.
I am pairing this savory-sweet papaya soup with a 2010 Andre et Michel Quenard’s Roussanne from the Savoie region located in the mountainous areas just south of Lake Geneva. (Note: the label says “Chignin-Bergeron”. Chignin is a village located in South Eastern France, and Bergeron is a local name for the Roussanne grape varietal.) Grown on sunny, South-West facing slopes, this Roussanne grape varietal from the Savoie region is intense, rich and aromatic. Exploding with the flavors of honey, pear, citrus and with hints of tropical fruits and flowery herbal tea, this silky wine gives a very clean, long finish with a subtly sweet spice aftertaste.
When I pair this wine with my savory-sweet papaya soup, the ripe fruit flavors of the wine further draw out the sweet tropical flavors of my soup. The thickness and creaminess of my soup also picks up on the rich texture of the wine. I especially love that the mild spiciness of the soup is beautifully counterbalanced by subtly sweet spice notes in the wine. This wine and soup pairing is unbelievable, mirroring how the sweet and savory flavors within the soup deliciously balance each other. Try making this simple yet absolutely sumptuous papaya soup this weekend and enjoy it with a glass of Roussanne. It will blow your mind mind and palette this Summer. Happy cooking and wine pairing.