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