The word for chayote is Spanish, borrowed from the Nahuatl word chayotli, which means Spiny Gourd. Chayote was one of the many foods introduced to Europe by early explorers, who brought back a wide assortment of botanical samples. The age of conquest also spread the plant south from Mexico, ultimately causing it to be integrated into the cuisine of many other Latin American nations. The flesh has a fairly bland taste, and a texture described as a cross between a potato and a cucumber. Although generally discarded, the seed has a nutty flavour and may be eaten as part of the fruit. The bland flavor of Chayote works to its advantage because it can absorb any flavor, in Australia during World War II there was an scarcity of fresh apples, so people cooked Chayote chunks in imported apple juice and sugar to produce an excellent filling for pies. Chayote vines are easy to grow, first you let one of the fruits sprout a root then plant it in good soil next to something the vine can crawl into, like a fence or a tree or build a rack with scrap material. The vine will bear many fruits for years, the leaves and shoots are also edible, in Taiwan the shoots are considered a delicacy. After 2 years it is possible to collect chunks of roots without affecting the plant, the roots are edible and taste similar to yams. In the link below you can practice your spanish and learn all about the Chayote, this site is for Chayote fanatics: Los Chayotes

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Sechium edule

ENGLISH NAME: Mirliton (Cajun), Pear Squash, Cho Cho (Caribbean)

LOCAL NAMES: Chayote (Panama, Costa Rica), Chayota (Venezuela), Guatila (Colombia), Xuxú (Brazil), Cayota (Peru), Pataste (Honduras), Guisquil (Guatemala, Salvador), Tayota (Nicaragua, Dominican Republic), christophine (French)

NUTRIENTS: The Chayote is a good source of Niacin, Vitamin B6, Pantothenic Acid, Magnesium and Potassium, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Folate, Zinc, Copper and Manganese. For a more detailed analysis of nutrients follow the link Chayote Nutrients

PROCESSING: Chayotes can be eaten with the peel if it is the variety with no hairs, otherwise remove the the peel. The fruit is usually sliced through the middle of its lips to remove the seed, although this seed is edible. Depending on the recipe the fruit woul be cut in thin slices, chunks or strips. Chayotes have a lot moisture, if you need to remove it, spray the pieces with salt and let them rest an hour then squeeze them with you hands.

STORING: Chayotes keep well in a cool dry place, if they are kept long, they will sprout  but will be edible. If you grow your own it is better to keep them in the vine until ready to use.

CHAYOTE SALAD: peel 2 chayotes and cube them, boil in salt water for no more than 10 minutes until slightly tender, place in cold water to avoid further cooking; deseed and finely chop a jalapeño or other hot pepper; deseed and coarsely chop a red pepper; cut about 100 gr. (1/4 lb) of mozzarella cheese in 1/4- by 1-inch sticks; peel, deseed a firm avocado and cut in cubes; combine all in a bowl and add 1/2 cup of thinly sliced green onions; in a cup prepare a dressing with 4 tablespoons of olive or vegetable oil, 2 tablespoons of white vinegar and 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro; add dressing to salad mix, salt a and pepper to taste and toss well.

CHAYOTE AND PALM HEARTS SALAD: peel 2 chayotes and cube them, boil in salt water for no more than 10 minutes until slightly tender, place in cold water to avoid further cooking; in a bowl place 1 small red onion and one small red pepper both cut in julienned strips; add the kernels of 1 small corn ear or 1/2 cup canned corn kernels; add 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro; add a deseeded and finely chopped jalapeño or other hot pepper; add 1 can (14 oz) of hearts of palm cut in big chunks and the cubes of chayote; in a cup prepare a dressing with the juice of 1 large lime, 1 orange, 2 tablespoons of ketchup, 1/4 teaspoon of hot sauce, 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, dash of sugar and mix well; spray dressing over vegetables and toss well, add salt and pepper to taste; refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving; serve over a leaf of lettuce and cover with some sliced pitted black olives.

CHAYOTE MATCHSTICKS WITH LIME AND ADOBO: this is one recipe vegetarians will love, is simple and delicious; if the chayote is of the hairy variety peel it, otherwise leave the peel on; cut the chayote in matchstick size strips; spray them with salt and toss for a good coat; let rest some 30 minutes over a strainer to sweat, then squeeze to eliminate excess moisture; place chayote strips in a bowl and spray generously with lime juice and chill for an hour or so; to serve spray with a mixture of equal parts of spiced salt (adobo) and chili powder. This stuff is addictive, you will not stop eating it.

CHAYOTE SAUTEED WITH SHRIMP: another simple and delicious recipe; peel and devein 16 shrimps, refrigerate them in cold water with salt for at least 30 minutes before using; cut 2 chayotes in julienned strips; in hot pan or wok, drizzle 2 table spoons of oil, stir fry the chayote and shrimp quickly, no more than 2 minutes; turn off heat and add 1 tablespoon of oysters sauce or to taste; add salt and pepper to taste; instead of black pepper you may use some hot pepper flakes or sauce if you like some heat. If you have chayote vines, you may use the tender shoots for this dish.

No comments:

Post a Comment