What a day to fire up the grill! It’s a gorgeous spring-like day and we’re gathered to watch the red carpet ceremonies and to find out how well we did with our Oscar Awards predictions. I’ve decided in favor of the Filipino pork barbecue. But I’m also going to throw in some chicken cured in the same marinade. Together, they will definitely spice up what, to me, is the Super Bowl of Super Bowls, the culmination of approximately 50 weekends of going to the movie theater. Although the Philippine entry to the Foreign Language Film category (“Bwakaw”) didn’t quite make it as a nominee, I insist on preparing a Filipino meal for this year’s Oscar dinner menu. But an authentic Filipino pork barbecue won’t be complete without the Atchara, a Filipino-style pickled accompaniment consisting of green papaya, bell peppers, shallots, ginger and carrots — cured with a boiled mixture of vinegar, sugar and salt. I guess I could have gone to a Filipino grocery store to pick up some bottled Atchara, but nothing compares to the excitement of preparing a home-cooked version of this condiment. Well, maybe, second only to the excitement of rooting for my favorite films and performers.
1 medium-sized green papaya
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 green bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 medium-sized carrot, cut into thin strips
3 shallots, peeled and sliced
1-inch sized giner, peeled and cut into thin strips
Salt and pepper to taste 1 cup rice vinegar 1 cup brown sugar
Peel the papaya, discard the seeds and grate the fruit. Put the grated papaya in a bowl and add a tsp of salt. Let stand for 30-45 minutes, then with hands and fingers, squeeze the grated fruit in batches to drain the juice. Set aside. In a small sauce pan, boil the vinegar, adding the sugar and salt. Stir well while boiling. When sugar is fully dissolved, remove from heat and set aside. Let it cool down. In a mixing bowl, add the bell peppers, carrots, shallots and ginger. Pour in the vinegar mixture and add salt and pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly. Transfer everything into a glass jar with a tight cover and refrigerate overnight. If desired, sprinkle a few raisins over the mixture when ready to serve.