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Stir-Fried Chayote



Chocho. Choko. Chou chou. Mirliton. Pimpinela. This cucurbit goes by many names. In Malaysia we call it the Siamese gourd. In Thailand its known as sayongte. In India they call it squash. Here in France it goes by christophene, chayote or chuchu. In Korea they call it 차요테.

Here’s an urban legend from Down Under Australia: the celebrated apple pie of that fast food chain (whose primary mascot is a clown) is actually chayote pie pretending to be apple pie. Without revealing their top secret recipe, management vehemently denied this rumour and insisted their apple pie is all apple. Chayote is sometimes called upon as a subsitute for apples and pears, so therein lies the basis of that myth.


Looking like an oversized, segmented, slightly wrinkled and less good-looking version of a pear about to burst its skin, the Chayote has a mild and subtly sweet taste. Some may go as fas as to say it is bland, but you could argue that potato or zucchini is bland. It has a crunchy texture a bit like unripe pear or water chestnut. It doesn’t seem to have captured the spotlight like the bok choy or the daikon, but I’m here to tell you it is a fruit worth trying. Just treat it like a vegetable.


Call it by whatever name, this fiber, folate and magnesium-packed squash is one of those rare foods that can be eaten in its entirety: flesh, seed, flowers, young shoots, leaves and all. Borne late in the season usually around October or November, I see it in markets here in France. I haven’t eaten it chez des francais but I believe it gets the cheese and cream treatment, like a potato gratin.


One of these gourds may weigh as much as 500 grams. Although the skin is edible, it is a bit tough to my liking and I prefer to peel it. The seed too is edible, and tastes a little like an almond. I removed it for this recipe though.

This is something my mum used to make; stir-fried very quickly with glass noodles and carrots, it takes literally minutes. The chayote is sweet, crispy and juicy. The cutting takes some time but if you have a gadget like a mandoline, go ahead and use it but do be super careful - a case of do like I say and not like I do, otherwise you’ll find youself in emergency like I did at the end of summer.


Stir-Fried Chayote


Glass noodles, also known as bean thread, is a transparent vermicelli easily found in Asian stores and is made with mung beans starch.

INGREDIENTS

serves 4 to 6 as a side

Prep Time 15 mins/Cook Time 3 to 5 mins/Total Time 20 mins

  • 50 gms glass noodles

  • 1 clove garlic

  • 1 chayote

  • 1 carrot

  • 1 tbsp cooking oil

  • 1 tsp soya sauce

  • Salt and Pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Soak the glass noodles in a bowl of warm water while you prep the other ingredients.

  2. Peel and finely dice the garlic.

  3. Peel the chayote, remove seed, cut into quarters, then slices and then into long matchsticks.

  4. Peel and julienne the carrot.

  5. Heat oil in a wok or frying pan.

  6. Add garlic, do not let brown.

  7. And gourd and carrot and stir-fry over medium high heat.

  8. Strain glass noodles and add to the vegetables.

  9. Season with soya sauce, and salt and pepper. And 1/4 cup water.

  10. Mix well, stir-fry until noodles, gourd and carrot are almost tender but not quite.

  11. Serve with rice.


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