Green Papaya, Fish & Dried Octopus Soup

Green Papaya, Fish & Dried Octopus Soup

Soup Name: Green Papaya, Fish & Dried Octopus Soup

Traditional Chinese Name:  木瓜魚湯 (mù gua yú tāng)

A popular and very common soup for confinement, but not limited to this special group of ladies. For confinement, you must use GREEN papaya (ie: raw, raw, raw – smoking green). The dried octopus helps in milk production as well as adding some flavor to the soup. Use small fish where possible (to limit the exposure to mercury) and setting the soup overnight in a thermal pot really helps bring out the flavors. You can make a big pot and drink for about 2-3 days (while reheating it). This soup generates a very rich, milky broth that is super nutritious, delicious and suitable for the whole family. Another key ingredient for confinement is the ginger – don’t discount the power of ginger!


What Ingredients are required?

100 g of ginger, sliced thinly
2 fresh fish, halved (for this recipe, I used 2 fresh Bartail Flatheads)
2 large green papayas
1 dried octopus, quartered

1 tsp of oil (to fry the fish & ginger)
2 L of water
salt to taste

How do I prepare it?

  1. Cut and soak the octopus in a bowl of warm water
  2. Thoroughly wash and clean the fish
  3. In a shallow pan on medium heat, add oil and ginger and when the oil is hot, add fish
  4. Fry the fish with the ginger on both sides until golden brown
  5. Remove from stove to let cool
  6. Boil your soup water
  7. Wash and peel papaya skin, cut into large edible portions
  8. When the water boils, add in fish, fried ginger, octopus and papaya
  9. Boil on medium heat for 1.5 hours
  10. Put into a thermal pot to keep warm or for reboil later

Any benefits?

  • This soup is rich vitamin C, carotenes and antioxidants
  • It is said to aid in milk production for breastfeeding women (use green papayas in this case)

Any precautions?

  • Be sure to use smaller fish (not the tiny fish, but a foot in length is OK) as the larger the fish, the more mercury content
  • You can consider using a soup bag for the fish, although the little fish tend to stick together if you just halve it

Similar soups:

The soup is a very rich, milky broth

Chinese Confinement: The Early Days



The journey for Chinese Confinement #7 started about 4 days ago.

This page is about Chinese Confinement in the early days. True “body-recovering” doesn’t actually happen until past days 10-12. That’s when you take out the heavy artillery. For now, the first 10-12 days (some say 8-10) should be light, mild and “taking it easy”. This doesn’t mean you can eat “cooling foods” or take showers and let your hair to air dry, it means your diet is light. From various sources at the wet mart and Chinese herbalists, the advice is to drink these light teas and lay off the power herbs.

I will continue to add as I learn more here, but here’s a start.

You can also read forward to prepare for Chinese Confinement: The Final Days (Day 13-30).


Chinese Confinement drinks, teas & soups (for the early days):


Chinese Confinement foods and snacks (for the early days):

Wood Ear & Red Dates Tea

Wood Ear & Red Dates Tea

Soup Name: Wood Ear & Red Dates Tea

Traditional Chinese Name:  木耳红枣茶 (mu er hóng zǎo chá)

This tea is posted as a post natal/confinement tea and is drank only within the first 0-5 days of confinement to help eliminate the lochia (not going to go into detail what lochia is, but please google it if you’re not sure). It’s a simple tea with 3 ingredients (the meat is optional if you’re vegetarian) and very easy to make. It’s a sweet, slightly tart tea and must be drank hot/warm. It’s one of the better tasting teas I know available for confinement! You can boil a whole big batch for 5 days worth, refrigerate and then reheat when needed or boil fresh batches everyday. It is recommended to drink 1-2 glasses a day (depending if you’ve got other teas or soups already filling your tummy!). Do not add additives like sugar or salt. Keep it clean, light and natural.


What Ingredients are required?

This portion yields only 1 cup of the tea.

100 g of pork shank
50 g of pitted red dates
50 g of dried wood ear
3 cups of water

How do I prepare it?

  1. Soak your dates and wood ear for 10-15 minutes in cool water
  2. Boil your 3 glasses of water
  3. When the water boils, add all the ingredients together and boil on a medium boil (covered) for 1.5 hours
  4. Serve hot/warm directly as is

Any benefits?

  • This tea helps in discharging and eliminating the lochia
  • It helps the body regenerate and replace lost blood

Any precautions?

  • Be sure to pit the dates. The pits are said to be “CHO” – which is very heaty, but not in a good way
Boiled wood ear and red dates

Chinese Confinement #7: The Beginning

It’s a girl! 

My parents were graced with grand child #7 two days ago and this story is the journey of confinement #7 for sister #2. We welcome baby Ashley to the family and because she was early, our personal “Pu Yuet” – who is grandma, is still stuck in Toronto waiting eagerly to board a flight to Hong Kong to help. So both myself and sister #3 have taken over with my mom’s guidance to provide the ultimate confinement diet for my sister #2.


This journey is an inclusive “diary” of the discoveries of food, drinks, soups, teas, traditions and little knick knacks that normal people don’t follow.

For more information, you can read the story of Chinese Confinement #6 as a start and a base.

I will continue to add to this post as part of the whole story with subsequent posts. Stay tuned and thanks for your continued support. I also welcome any advice or guidance as well. It’s incredible how vendor A will tell you to do A and vendor B will tell you to do B. The knowledge of wealth comprised within that tiny wet mart near my house is incredible and part of my interest now is document it and share it with you.

The whole story 

Yummy Mummy’s Confinement Diet

Chinese Confinement: The Early Days (Day 0-12)

Chinese Confinement: The Final Days (Day 13-30) 


Lisa & Tracy Tong (your soup ladies)

Chinese Soups for Fall!



They say that it’s dry in the fall. It’s only a prelude to how really dry it will can get in the winter, but already your body needs moisturizing and supplements.

Soups in this category are meant to:

  • Help transition the body from hot to cool
  • Help provide moisture and humidity back to the body
  • Help build the immune system in preparation for colder winter days
  • Bring some heat back into the body
Soups here are warmer in nature and help bridge that odd changing weather between summer and winter. Some days it gets colder, some days it gets hotter. For me, it’s a rather nice season in Hong Kong where it’s not scorching hot, but cool enough that it’s comfortable. Enjoy and send me your fabulous family recipes!


Some ingredients suitable for Fall:

Night Blooming Cereus – Helps remove pathological fire that is created during the hot summer to help transition the body into fall

Bellflower Root – Great to moisturize and nourish lungs (especially as it becomes dry)

Lu Gen or Reed Rhizome – Helps relieve dry throats and quenches thirst (which can often happen during autumn and winter months)

Luo Han Guo – Helps moisten the lungs, relieve coughs and quenches thirst

Dried loquat leaves – Helps moisturize the throat and great for sore and dry throats

Arrowroot – helps bring moisture back to the body


Great soups for the Fall:

Night Blooming Cereus and Figs in Pork Broth
Fresh Snow Pears in Chicken Soup with Snow Fungus
Lung Moisturizing Tea
Luo Han Guo in Watercress Soup
Autumn Drink with Dragon’s Tongue Leaf and Luo Han Guo
Loquat Soup (For The Lungs)
Vegetarian Arrowroot and Corn Soup