Fried Papaya Leaves & Anchovies

Origin: Indonesia


  • 500 g young papaya leaves (replace with savoy / Wirsing if not available)
  • 100 g anchovies (any kind)
  • 2 pc large green chillies, or large red chillies, finely sliced
  • 5-10 pc small red chillies/bird's eye chillies, finely sliced/chopped
  • 5 pc shallots, finely sliced
  • 3 gloves garlic, finely sliced
  • ½ tsp roasted dried shrimp paste / terasi
  • 1 cm galangale, sliced or bruised
  • 2 pc salam or bay leaves
  • ½ tsp sugar or to taste
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • vegetable oil

Stir-Fried Papaya Leaves & Anchovies

When it comes to food, Indonesians sometimes have unique tastes and preferences. Even foods which's considered strange according to European people are also consumed. For example "Stir-Fried Bitter Melon" or Stir-Fried Papaya Leaves. It is precisely the bitter taste that makes addictive !! Strange, no??!:-D This is a daily recipe of Indonesian households with a native Indonesian and cheap ingredient : young papaya leaves & anchovies. Since this unique fresh vegetable is rarely almost impossible to obtain in the western supermarkts even in asian shops, I replace it with savoy (English) or Wirsing (German) as subtitute. With its hard texture & slighlty bitter taste, savoy is the best subtitute for papaya leaf. Buy more and use only the greeny leaves to obtain the best result.
Important Note: I should warn you that dried shrimp paste smells quite awful especially for Europeans, but the taste in Nasi Goreng or other finished dishes (if required) is greatfully aromatic and essential to the authenticity of Indonesian cuisine. My suggestion, use it only little at first as I write in this recipe. It is less than in my Indonesian version.
Have a try and hopefully this recipe will give you another sight on indonesian unique Stir-Fried Dishes 🙂


  • Discard the hard ribs of papaya/savoy leaves, add salt and squeeeze with your hand until they are soft (Tip: This is to reduce bitterness and preserve the green colour after blanching and boiling). Rinse with cold water.
  • Boil enough water, wait until it boils, add 1 teaspoon of salt and add the papaya (savoy) leaves.
  • Blanch the papaya/savoy leaves for about 5-7 minutes until it's done but still crunchy. Check occationally.
  • Discard the boiling water and rinse with cold water immediately to stop cooking process.
  • Squeeze out excess water and slice the leaves against the fibers. Put aside.
  • Peel of and slice/chop all ingredients for the seasoning: shallot, garlic and chillies.
  • Heat 2 tbsp oil in a fryingpan, saute shallot, garlic and chillis until translucent & fragrant.
  • Add a bit salt immediately if the chilli's fumes causes you coughing uncontrollably. Stir continuously until well cooked.
  • Add blanched papaya/savoy leaves, stir to mix.
  • Add shrimp paste (disolve with a bit water if necessary), stir to mix.
  • Add salt & sugar to adjust the taste. Remove from heat.
  • Heat about 4 tbsp oil, fried anchovies until golden brown. Set aside to drain.
  • Add the fried anchovies onto stir-fried papaya/savoy leaves and stir to mix. Serve hot with rice as side dish.
Keyword anchovies, papaya leaves, savoy

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