Saturday, August 9, 2008

Chayote Ugly

Ever cooked (or even eaten) a chayote before? Neither had I, until Monday night. During my week in San Diego, I was determined to prepare at least one full meal. Well, I actually expected to spend a lot more time in the kitchen than that, but instead I ended up eating several dinners out with friends and family. When I lived in the Bay Area I always overestimated the amount of "free time" I'd have on my trips back home, and relocating to Ohio has further exacerbated this tendency. I guess I had to move 2,500 miles away to start feeling like a rock star with a full social schedule... heehee, I sound kind of like my older sister. ;-) For those of you who don't know Krissy, she is the popular one. And, I should add, the self-identified beautiful one. The latter is a running joke between us and originated circa 1995, the day that she gazed at herself adoringly in our bathroom mirror and tossed her hair back like a shampoo commercial star, exclaiming "God, I'm beautiful!" Meanwhile, I looked on in my gangly, pubescent (lack of) glory and seethed.

Okay, back to my cooking excursion. On Monday afternoon I went to a local supermarket in search of exotic, fusion-y ingredients that wouldn't necessarily be as accessible to me in Columbus. And I stumbled upon a stack of chayotes. Admittedly, one of the reasons I brought two of them home with me was so that I could post a blog entry with this title. (Until I looked it up on I actually thought it was pronounced "coyote". For those of you who are curious and/or have a worse sense of pronunciation than I do - in other words, for an infinitesimal percentage of the population - it is "chai-OAT-ee".) The chayotes themselves weren't too ugly, but the plantains next to them were hideously brown and/or withered. Too bad, because I had hoped to make a chayote-plantain saute inspired by a purported seasonal flavor of Jeni's ice creams. (Best. Ice. Cream. EVER.) I substituted bananas instead, and neither my mom nor stepdad seemed to mind. Some of the rest of the ingredients I pulled from a Cuisine at Home recipe for banana-sweet potato mash. But mostly, this is a Kim-made creation:

1 t butter or canola oil
2 chayotes, diced into 1-inch cubes
2 bananas or plantains, sliced
1/2 jalapeno
1 T brown sugar
1 T orange juice
a dash of salt

Saute chayote cubes and jalapeno in butter or oil in a skillet over medium heat for 5-7 minutes, or until crisp-tender. (If using plantains, saute them with the chayote. If using bananas, add at the end just to heat through, or they will break apart.) Add brown sugar and orange juice; cook until sugar is dissolved and juice is evaporated, about 2 minutes. Finish with salt.

The taste was, in my stepdad's words, interesting. (Believe it or not, that's a compliment! Keep in mind it comes from a man who would always quip, "Does your face hurt?" when I'd complain about not feeling well.) The jalapeno added a little twist to the sweetness of the other ingredients, and the chayote tasted... well, pretty neutral. But definitely not ugly. I had hoped to post a picture with this recipe, and although I did take one on my cell phone, I only recently realized that I can't upload it to a computer. So alas, it wasn't meant to be. Once I'm back in Columbus and have BFFT's digital on hand, though, I'll be fully back on board.


babbie said...

Try growing your Chayote in a large pot, then you'll have a constant supply by next November, start them now move it outside in the spring, looks and grows very similar to grapes, let them grow, bring them back in the fall before your first frost, you should get 3 years out of 1 plant, if you're successful plant 1 that you've grown each year and you'll have a constant supply. I am In San Diego believe it or not and I'm dreadfully going to try your recipe and this is my favorite 1.

Creamy Saute of chayotes Squash:
6 servings

3 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 jalapeno. seeded and minced (I used 2)
2 chayote Squash. Peeled and thinly sliced
Salt and finely ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup heavy cream (I use can milk)
1 tablespoon it minced fresh chives
1 tbsp. minced fresh cilantro

Heat butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat.
Add jalapeno and cook, stirring for 1 minute.
Add squash, salt and pepper.
Cover the pan, reduce heat and cook until the squash is just tender about 5 minutes.
Remove the cover and add the cream to the squash; toss gently. Raise heat and simmer the mixture uncovered until the cream is almost evaporated and has coated the squash.
Add chives and cilantro and correct seasoning.

Ken said...

apparently they sell chayote in the grocery stores here (I didn't buy one, but thought of your post when I saw them).