Vietnamese Papaya Soup with Pork (Canh Du Du Nau Thit Nac)
Vietnamese folk remedy says Papaya Soup, or Canh Du Du, stimulates lactation in new mothers. Whether it's true or not, I surely didn't complain when I was endlessly served Canh Du Du after the birth of my children. Canh Du Du and Vietnamese Sour Catfish Soup (Canh Chua) are two my favorite Vietnamese soups.
Papaya is a fruit that is super sweet when fully ripened. When added to soups, it adds a natural sweetness that is subtle yet flavorful. For this soup, you want to pick a papaya that is ripe (orange flesh) but also one that is firm. If it's too ripe, it will break up in the soup. Also, avoid using green unripened papaya. Although I've seen some Vietnamese use unripened papaya, the soup won't have that natural sweetness and most cases, will require a bit of sugar to balance out the taste.
Vietnamese Papaya Soup with Pork Recipe (Canh Du Du Nau Thit Nac)
1 lb pork shoulder (cut into small cubes, blanch in boiling salted water for 5 minutes, then rinse)
1-1/2 lbs ripened yet firm papaya flesh (cut into small cubes)
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chicken soup powder (or 1 teaspoon salt if none is available)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Add vegetable oil to the bottom of a small pot. Heat on high. Add shallots and garlic. Stir until shallot and garlic are limp and fragrant (about 15 seconds).
Add pork. Toss until it is evenly coated with the aromatics.
Add water. Be careful as oil may splatter. Bring the pot to a boil then reduce heat to low. Simmer for 25 minutes or until pork is chopstick or fork tender. Occasionally skim off the foam at the top.
Add papaya. Cook for 5 minutes.
Season with salt and chicken soup powder.
Turn off heat. Garnish with cilantro.