[Photographs: Joshua Bousel]
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I started this sauce off with one Caribbean red papaya, and decided to keep the accompanying flavors fresh with an influence from the papaya's namesake home. So this meant for heat, I turned to the fruity habanero—I recommend starting with one and upping to two if you feel the need for an increased burn—then added the additional fresh flavors of shallots, lime juice, garlic, and ginger. In the spice department, I went in with small amounts of allspice, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg to add some earthy island undertones.
In the end I got pretty much exactly what I wanted with a sauce that delivers on its two requirements—heat and fruit—incredibly well, but also had a great depth and complexity. A sweet papaya initiates the flavor profile, which is delivered with a little lime tartness. Then the garlic, ginger, and spices have a fleeting moment of glory before an all-out take over by the fiery habanero commences and finally leaves a burning tongue with faint remnants of all the other flavors that came before.
The only problem here was that one papaya made a whole lot of sauce. While I'm happy to keep using it on some empanadas I occasionally pick up on the way home from work, I need some serious help in ways to get through this sauce while it's still good—any ideas?