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.



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