Papaya Soup, I have to share this! I am not ashamed but disappointed that I did not find this recipe much earlier. This past Saturday I went to my local food market to buy a few things I needed. As I walked through the vegetable aisle, I noticed that the papayas were looking mighty good and green. So I decided to pick one up since I have not made a stew with this lovely fruit in a long time. I was so excited and could not wait to get home.
As I was unloading my car, I remembered that the meat that I removed from the freezer to thaw was veal and not beef. I thought, man! Can’t have this with veal, because it is too mild and I will need some great spices. So with my sad look, I walked my little self to my workroom and started looking through my cooking books for inspirations.
Can you believe it was difficult for me to find a recipe? Ouch! Grrrr…! What will I do? I remembered my African Cookbook and immediately opened the book to the index section to search for papaya. Bingo! Papaya Soup from Tanzania was the winner!
I was happy and saved! You hear me? SAVED! Not knowing how the soup will turn out I was pretty darn excited to try it. Let me tell you! This is my new favorite soup. IT IS!
Before I go into details about the recipe here are some facts about papayas:
“The exact origination of papaya is unknown, but it is believed to be native to southern Mexico and neighboring Central America. The papaya is a melon like fruit with yellow-orange flesh enclosed in a thin skin that varies in color from green to orange to rose. Papayas are a rich source of vitamin A, and C. One-half of a small papaya can provide 150% of the recommended dietary intake of Vitamin C. It is low in calories, fat-free, cholesterol free, and an excellent source of potassium, folate, and fiber.
Today papaya can be found all year long with the peak season being early summer and fall. Most of the papayas imported come from Hawaii, but smaller quantities from Florida, California, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Central and South American countries are becoming more available.
The papaya enzyme called papain is used as a meat tenderizer. It breaks down tough meat fibers. Its use is nothing new. South American cooks have been using papaya to tenderize meat for ages. It is sold as a component in powdered meat tenderizer available in most supermarkets.
Look for papayas that are partly or entirely yellow in color, depending on variety, which gives slightly to pressure, but is not soft at the stem-end. Avoid papayas that are bruised, shriveled, or have soft areas. Papayas that are hard and green are immature and will not ripen properly. Uncut papayas have no smell. Papayas that are cut should smell sweet, not bad or fermented.
Slightly green papayas will ripen quickly at room temperature, especially if placed in a paper bag. As the papaya ripens, it will turn from green to yellow. Put ripe papayas in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator. Papayas will keep for up to a week, but it’s best to use them within a day or two.
There are two types of papayas, the Hawaiian and Mexican. The Hawaiian varieties also are known as Solo papayas, are found most often in supermarkets. These fruits are pear-shaped, weigh about a pound each, and have yellow skin when ripe. The flesh is bright orange or pinkish, depending on the variety. The Mexican varieties are not as common but can be found in Latino supermarkets. Mexican papayas are much larger then the Hawaiian types and can weigh up to 20 pounds and be more than 15 inches long. Although the flavor is less intense than the Hawaiian varieties, they are still delicious and enjoyable. (http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/fruit-month-papaya, 2015)
To go back to my most favorite soup of 2015, Papaya Soup, again this was so marvelous, and with fewer spices required, I cannot keep this secret to myself. I have to share it. Can you believe the number of ingredients you need? Check out the recipe. I have also to share that this recipe is from the recipe book called “A Taste of Africa written by Dorinda Hafner. The recipe for Papaya Soup is from Tanzania. Tanzanian food as stated by the author is not easy to describe: it may be best classified as a local variation on universal African food with a strong tropical slant. And because of the wide variety of fruits available, many recipes have been developed to use them.
This is a must try at least once. The papaya must not be ripped. The outside or skin must be green.
One important tip is when buying papaya, choosing the right one is key if you are not ready to use it right away. Always use the papaya right away if you are planning on cooking with it. If not, juicing is usually the preferred choice. Here is to another great and favorite winter soup as the papaya fruit is in season. Check out the recipe, all you have to do is buy the papaya! Pretty impressive! Right?