It is typhoon season, and this vegan ginataang papaya is just what the doctor ordered. The coconut soup base with the warmth of ginger and black pepper and the heat of the siling labuyo (birds eye chilli) is so comforting to eat!
I’ve been living in the Philippines for about ten years. When I first got here, I was having a really hard time as a vegan. Many of my usual cooking ingredients were not available, especially where I live, in “the provinces”. Over time, I have realised how wrong I was.
Everyday Filipino cuisine is not one of waste. It makes use of everything available in the vicinity. This stems from the hundreds of years of oppression under colonisers, where the local people had to make do with discarded offcuts and whatever would grow easily in the fields. Through this struggle, they have found many amazing ingredients.
One of them is the iron and vitamin C-rich malunggay, known now as superfood moringa. Another is the green papaya, full of nutrients and often used in making soups and stews. And yet another innovative way the Filipinos conserve nutrients is to use the water from rinsing rice as the base for soup stock.
In this vegan ginataang papaya recipe, we will be including all three of the above for a very easy yet nutritious and comforting stew. I used Meat Magic, which is a Philippine-made product, for the vegan protein. You can use tofu, another alternative protein, or just vegetables, as per your preference. Another idea to fully utilise your pantry is to use cabbage hearts and broccoli/cauliflower stems instead of green papaya.
If you are super in love with green papaya like me, check out my other green papaya recipes here.
If you want to use coconut milk instead of coconut cream, add 1 cup of coconut milk, and half a cup less of rice rinsing water.