When I was at the farmer’s market this weekend I saw a fruit that looked like a papaya but it was green. The farmer’s wife told me to buy it. It was ripe and ready to eat now, she said. She called it a white papaya. I looked at my daughter; we shrugged our shoulders and bought it. I cut it open at home only to see small white seeds and a very hard and plain-tasting fruit. I realized then that this is what papaya salad is made of at Vietnamese and Thai restaurants. Being Chinese, the white flesh reminded me of winter melon and I decided it was too cold for salad and that I would make a soup. I had a Japanese radish (daikon) and a knob of ginger in the refrigerator. Why not?
If you are using a 3-4 quart pot, then half a papaya, half a daikon and a healthy knob of ginger (8-10 thick slices) will do. Peel the papaya, daikon and ginger. Slice into small pieces. Remove any seeds from the papaya. I happened to have roasted chicken and duck bones from Chinatown and threw those in for flavor. Remember, the soup is only as good as the stock, so the more bones, the more flavor. You could use raw pieces of chicken or pork bones. It doesn’t matter. If you are vegetarian, I would use carrots or celery to add more flavor to the stock. Bring the ingredients to a boil, add salt to taste, and then lower to a simmer until the papaya and daikon are soft and the meat is falling off the bones. Remove the bone if desired before serving. Papayas (green or the fully ripened ones) are good for digestion so this was the perfect post-Halloween lunch when the kids all had stomach aches from too much candy!
Image by Jerry Alcantara