Chayote by Any Other Name

Cut shoots of chayote

I know. It’s not in season. But I am dreaming of it, because of a post from Elise on Simply Recipes. Chayote shoot is a taste of my childhood. Around the holidays, don’t we reminisce about good memories?

At some point I’ll post more info on the chayote, of which the young shots & leaves, the fruit and the tubers are edible, and on how to grow it in Virginia. In the US – at least here in Virginia – , I have only seen the fruit for sale. It’s easy to grow, is not bothered by pest – it just take time to get it started. Once it starts growing after the weather warms up, it will swallow a trellis in very little time, providing plenty of shoots for the kitchen: the more you pick, the more it branches, the more shoots there are – and shoots is what I want to talk about today.

While the fruit is very mild, easily absorbing other flavors, the shoots have a more pronounced taste of their own. It’s worth checking ethnic market for them. They might be carried there. Otherwise, come back here and read what I will write about growing your own. By the way, other name under which chayote (botanically Sechium edule) is known are: christophine or, christophene in the French Caribbean, mirliton in Louisiana, chocho in Australia, chouchou on Reunion Island. It originates from Mexico but has spread to many cuisines of the world, especially in Asia.They braise beautifully – or is that stir-fry since they need cook only 20 minutes or so after the initial few minutes in the hot oil – acquiring an unctuousity that’s hard to describe. A quick and tasty way to have them is Chayote Shoots with Ginger Pork.

Disclaimer added 12/13/08: Both photos were taken in the summer. As of December, here in Virginia, my chayote vine is dead, killed by cold. I will plant a new one out come next spring. You could freeze the shoots, once cooked.

Chayote shoots with pork

Chayote Shoots with Ginger Pork

  • One bunch of chayote shoots, tender parts only
  • ½ to 1 pound of ground pork
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 knob of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 garlic gloves, peeled, degermed and minced
  • 1/4 water or less

Instructions:

  1. Discard all tendrils from the chayote shoots. Break the shoots in finger length pieces. Wash and dry (a salad spinner is ideal for this)
  2. In cast iron pan, heat oil on medium/high heat, add the pork, and fry it on high heat for a few minutes until some of it is crispy, breaking the clumps apart. Add the onion, stir and fry until onions are translucent. Adjust the heat as necessary. Remove from pan and reserve
  3. Add additional oil to the pan if necessary. Add the chayote shots, and stir fry until they start to turn limp. Add the ginger and garlic. Stir. Add a quarter cup of water or so. Cover and lower heat. Let steam for a few minutes. Add the pork & onion mixture, cover and cook about 20 minutes.
  4. Serve with sticky rice and freshly made hot pepper sauce.

Note for the Locavore Log. From the garden: chayote shoots. Pork: immediately local.

For instructions on how to grow chayote, read this post.

13 comments

  1. Vanille says:

    Trying to repost all the comments that disappeared (good thing I saved the e-mails/ see 12/19/08 post), here was a comment from Vanille 12/13/08. Sylvie

    Comment:
    If Elise’s post made you dream, yours will make me do so…I’m not found of chayote itself, but brèdes chouchou !…
    Are they from your garden ?

    Vanille
    http://atdownunder.wordpress.com/

  2. Sylvie says:

    Trying to repost all the comments that disappeared (good thing I saved the e-mails/ see 12/19/08 posting), here was a response to Vanille’s comment.

    Yes, I grow chayote until frost in my garden. While slow to start and not producing mature fruit for me because I don’t have a long enough growing season (and it is a tender perennial), I get plenty of shoots which are terrific for stir frying and/or braising.

    This year, I am starting the vine really early, to see if it’s big enough when day/night are about the same in length to it sets fruit.

    Sylvie

  3. Vanille says:

    Trying to repost all the comments that disappeared (good thing I saved the e-mails/ see 12/19/08 posting), here was another comment from Vanille. Sylvie

    Comment:
    It seems your post brought me luck ! I found some today at the market and some ‘margoze’ too ! I don’t like margoze, but was just happy to see some… I let you guess what I will eat tonight…

    Vanille
    http://atdownunder.wordpress.com/

  4. Tiffany says:

    I have never tried chayote, but it sounds really wonderful. I wonder if it would be available at any farmer’s markets this spring?

  5. sylvie says:

    Tiffany – I have never ever seen chayote fruit, shoots or tubers at any local (around DC) farmers’ market in my years in the city. But there is hope. The fruit is found easily in most large supermarkets (sometimes under ethnic or exotic section in the produce department). South American markets also routinely carry them. It might – I just say might – be possible to buy shoots in one of the large Korean or Vietnamese market.

    I will do a post on growing Chayote early next year. Come back and check. As long as you have a little sunny patch of dirt, you can grow chayote. They are less demanding than many kitchen garden crops.

  6. [...] while ago, I posted a recipe for chayote shoots, this unusual green that’s easy to grow and that is wonderfully silky in [...]

  7. [...] prepare the shoots and young leaves, here is a basic recipe. I have since read that some people eat the tendrils. They are routinely discarded where I grew up [...]

  8. [...] It does not have to be rice, although the picture below shows the rougail served with braised chayote shoots, and 2 fresh fried eggs for a quick luncheon. I have served it also with a meal of roasted chicken, [...]

  9. [...] Shoots. One of my favorite greens. Encouraged by comments and other readings, I also finally tried the young tendrils and they are [...]

  10. Charon says:

    I live in south Texas and have a long growing season. I would love to start a chayote vine but it does not seem to be available here. Any suggestions where I can find some?

  11. sylvie says:

    Charon, Chayote is originally from Mexico and central America, so you should be able to buy the fruit and start the vines easily in south Texas. I don’t think you’ll find a vine for sale anywhere.

    Read my post here for suggestions on where to find the fruit (the supermarket or Hispanic market) and how to start the vine:
    http://www.laughingduckgardens.com/ldblog.php/2009/01/09/starting-chayote-in-virginia/

    Suggestions for successful growing are in this post:
    http://www.laughingduckgardens.com/ldblog.php/2009/01/29/growing-chayote-in-virginia/

    Good luck. Let us know how it does for you!

  12. [...] Northern Virginia Piedmont climate does not allow me to grow it for its fruit, I can grow for its edible and prolific shoots – a wonderful summer cooking green. For more details, read those prior posts on starting [...]

  13. K says:

    I will plant sprouted chayote in pots soon to set in garden in about two months. Anyone out there with advice for minnesota gardener?

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