KitchenTigress: Buah Paya Masak Titek (Peppery Papaya Soup)

Buah Paya Masak Titek (Peppery Papaya Soup)

Buah paya masak titek is a Nyonya soup. It has strong umami flavours from prawns, papayas, salted fish and dried prawns. It also has a spicy kick from white peppercorns.

My soup is inspired by "The Best of Singapore Cooking" and "Cooking for the President".

The recipe from "The Best of Singapore Cooking" is too salty. It uses too much salted fish bones and dried prawns, in addition to salt and a chicken stock cube.

The recipe from "Cooking for the President" isn't ideal either. It's more like a stew than soup since there's more papaya than water. There aren't any fresh prawns, and it's less spicy than "The Best Of". But I like the book's idea of dry-frying, then simmering the dried prawns.

I take the best parts of the two recipes to make my peppery papaya soup.

I use less papaya than "Cooking For", and less salted fish bones than "The Best Of".

I omit the salt and stock cube but there're fresh prawns, as well as dried ones dry-fried till very fragrant.

Lastly, I go along with the amount of white peppercorn and chilli in "The Best Of".

My soup contrasts the fruity sweetness of papaya with a salty and mildly spicy stock. I like it very much. I hope you do too.

This Nyonya soup is fat-free yet full of flavour. May be a light meal if you like.

buah paya masak titek
  • 350 g prawns – peel, leaving tails on; devein; rinse; reserve shells and heads for making stock
  • 80 g salted threadfin bones, rinse twice
  • 900 ml water
  • 40 g dried prawns (¼ cup) – rinse and dry-fry till fragrant
  • 12 g candlenuts (3 pieces)
  • 1 red chilli
  • 1 tbsp white peppercorns
  • 80 g shallots, peel, wash and chop roughly
  • 800 g half-ripe papaya (skin should be green with a hint of yellow) – peel, rinse, quarter lengthwise, discard seeds, trim inner surface, and cut crosswise 1½ cm thick
  • sugar to taste, about ½ tsp

  1. Bring prawn shells and heads, salted fish bones and water to a boil. Simmer gently, covered, for 5 minutes.

  2. Make spice paste whilst stock is simmering. Blend or pound dried prawns, candlenuts, chillies, peppercorns and shallots finely.

  3. Remove and discard prawn shells and heads from stock with a slotted spoon. Add ground paste. Continue gentle simmering for 10 minutes. Add papaya and bring back to a boil. Simmer till almost tender, 3-4 minutes depending on how ripe papaya is. Do not overcook or papaya would turn mushy.

  4. Turn off heat. Let soup sit 10 minutes, covered, to develop flavours.

  5. Reheat soup till gently simmering. Taste and season with sugar to taste, about ½ tsp. Add prawns and heat till just pink and opaque. Do not overcook.

  6. Serve soup hot, accompanied by sambal belachan and calamansi lime juice as a dip.