Papaya Carpaccio

by Dr. Hennie Fisher

Carpaccio veering away from the traditional version, made with beef, have become ubiquitous on restaurant menus in recent years. Carpaccio made from a range of ingredients such as courgette, biltong and sweet pepper abound. Traditionally thinly malleted beef, game or even fish such as salmon or tuna, carpaccio is generally served as a starter, but it is equally excellent as part of antipasti or a self-help harvest table. It is said to have been invented by Giuseppe (Arrigo) Cipriani, the founder of Harry’s Bar in Venice around 1961 (Riely, 2003:54), who apparently invented the dish for Countess Amalia Nani Mocenigo after she learned from her doctors that she should eat a lot of raw meat. The classic beef version is dressed with a mustardy mayonnaise or lemon, olive oil, Parmesan, sometimes some truffle and perhaps even capers and onions. The traditional dish started as a Piedmontese specialty, carne cruda all’albese, and history tells us that Giuseppe named the dish after Vittore Carpaccio, a Venetian painter who used a lot of red and white tones in his work.

This reworked version uses the ever popular and versatile Papaya from Neofresh. As can be seen from the image, on first inspection it may well look like smoked trout or salmon, but it is sure to delight everybody, including our vegan and vegetarian customers. Be sure to use a Papaya that is not overly ripe, as the ‘pliability’ of the Papaya decreases as it ripens. However, one also would not want a Papaya that is unripe. The charm of this carpaccio lies in the combination of the sweet Papaya, which offsets acidity and other flavours so well. Be creative and daring with the accompaniments you choose to combine with the Papaya. The green sauce can be made with various other herbs if parsley is unavailable, such as mint, fresh fennel or even rocket.

Ingredients for 4 portions:

  • 1 medium large Neofresh Papaya, peeled and de-seeded
  • 30 g celery, cut into brunoise (tiny blocks)
  • A selection of edible flowers and tiny leaves, such as nasturtium flowers and leaves, rocket leaves and flowers, bronze fennel fronds, rue flowers, tiny wild clover leaves, wild red amaranth leaves
  • Zest of 1 lemon, cut into very thin strips
  • 2 red chillies, deseeded and thinly sliced
  • Salt flakes to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 40 g dried olives, chopped
  • 80 ml green sauce
  • 40 ml good quality virgin olive oil

For the green sauce:

  • 30 g fresh broad leaf (Italian) parsley, chopped
  • ½ lemon juice (about 45 ml)
  • 1 large garlic clove, cleaned and chopped
  • 2,5 ml sugar
  • 2,5 ml freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 ml salt
  • 80 ml olive oil

Blend all the ingredients together in a liquidizer or use a stick-blender in a small upright jug.


Use a very sharp vegetable peeler and slice thin, even ribbons from the Papaya. Lay them in a random fashion onto four plates; don’t be overly precise. Scatter over the celery, olives, sliced chillies and lemon zest. Drizzle over the olive oil and green sauce so that the liquids do not puddle too much in one area alone. Scatter over the flowers and leaves so that all the plates have a good variety and selection of leaves. Grind over pepper and sprinkle with some salt flakes. Serve immediately. Even though this version of carpaccio may not work well with fresh bread, it could be served with crisps such as whole-wheat or rye crisp breads or wafers.

Riely, E, 2003, The Chef’s Companion (3rd Ed), John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey