Thursday, October 4, 2012

Papaya - muhk-gwâa - 木瓜

This is the papaya season in Hong Kong and I bought a large unripe fruit when I visited e-farm last week to make a soup  (to view my post on the visit- click here>>>.)
A good news: if you want to try to make this soup or another variation you don't have to go to the New-Territories as many local farmers are selling their organic produce at Island East Markets (IEM) on Sunday in Quarry Bay.

Teresa – owner of e-farm (an organic farm) at IEM

Organic farmers’ stalls at IEM
Papaya is an excellent source of dietary fibre, is rich in nutrients and low in calories. Its mild and sweet taste makes it easy for kids to like it. It’s the perfect food for all to enjoy this season!
In Hong Kong unripe (green) papaya is cooked in soups. Some people choose to use a partly ripe papaya to have a combination of green and orange colours and thus a mixture of different flavours. I, myself, prefer green papayas cooked in soup or raw in salad (Thai style) and the ripe ones raw.

Papaya, white fungus and pork soup

Papaya soup
  • 1 catty (~600g) lean pork
  • 1 large papaya (~1 catty), peeled and cut into big chunks (see note*)
  • 1 Tbsp dried lotus seeds
  • 1 Tbsp sweet and bitter apricot kernels
  • 15-20g snow fungus (3 or 4 pieces depending on their size), soaked in water until soft
  • 1-2 slices ginger 
  1. Cut lean pork in chunks, blanch and rinse in cold water.
  2. In a large pot, add 6 rice bowls of water, pork, ginger, and apricot kernels and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for ½ hour.
  3. Add papaya, lotus seeds, and snow fungus. Bring to a boil again, reduce heat and simmer for another ½ hour.
  4. Add salt to taste.
* Note: after removing the seeds peel the bitter white pith inside the papaya.

I like the combination of papaya and lotus seeds making this soup sweet and soft in texture.

Dried snow fungus

Cooked snow fungus (have increased in size)

Snow fungus or syut-yíh (雪耳) in Cantonese (also called white fungus) is a mushroom which is mainly used in soups (savoury or sweet). It is said  to be good for skin (moisturizer) and help to cure dry coughs, lower total blood-cholesterol levels, etc.
Like black fungus or wàhn-yíh 雲耳 (lit. cloud-ear) it needs to be soaked in water until soft before cooking. A few pieces might not seem a lot but they will expand many folds in water.

By the way, Teresa’s papaya soup on the day of my visit to her farm was made with 2 other ingredients only: a fresh (live) fish and some pork bones (giving extra flavour). Surprisingly no ginger was added. Ginger is usually added in fish soup to cover up the muddy and fishy taste of fish. The jade perch raised at e-farm had no fishy taste at all!
This is another version of papaya soup. You might also want to give it a try!

Bon appétit!

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