This is a chayote.
It is commonly used here as one of the ingredients for tamarind soup, or as a savory stir fry or spicy coconut milk soup. Apparently it is also a common ingredient in Latin American dishes as well, as a quick net research revealed to me.
It also revealed that eating chayote can have many health benefits, such as reducing constipation, acne, and even reducing blood pressure and increasing intelligence. hmm.
Unfortunately, it is not one of my favorite vegetable. It has this strange, freshwater scent that I am not keen on. I used to avoid eating it in tamarind soup, but now I am more tolerant of the vegetable that is apparently a relative of squashes and cucumbers.
However, I am determined to make myself like it even more. Thus, I decided to incorporate it into one of my favorite dishes: steamed/boiled dumplings.
I browsed for recipes of vegetarian dumplings on the web, aside from using a recipe in my “Asian Vegetarian” cookbook. None of the ones I found had Chayote in them though. So I decided to be creative.
On my first try, I used spinach, tofu, spring greens, a carrot and a chayote of course. On my second try, I omitted the spinach. The taste difference occurred more because of the seasonings rather than the spinach change, I think.
I first tried boiling the dumplings but it was a messy affair, and discovered that it was easier to steam them (I was first intimidated by the thought, but it was fairly a piece of cake).
I also tried first to shape them into half-moon shapes but the parcel shapes were much easier to make. Plus, the edges don’t turn as dry as the half-moon ones.
My first try at these babies revealed a lack of flavor, but I added more soy sauce on the second try, and, although my taste buds are a bit immune to homemade dumplings now, I’d say they’re not bad. Or maybe I should pay a visit to Crystal Jade for a comparative study soon.
1 package of gyoza (round) wrappers. The one I bought contained 16 sheets.
1 medium-sized chayote.
a bunch of spinach.
Four firm tofu cubes, or adjust to taste
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and diced finely
about 1 cm ginger, shredded
1 stalk of spring onion (optional)
salty soy sauce
Spicy sesame oil. or better yet, sesame oil and togarashi (dried chili)
Cut the chayote in half, and rub the two halves in circular motion until white foam comes out. this is to get rid of the sap. keep rubbing until the surface of both halves feels somewhat coarse.
peel the chayote and dice it into small cubes.
wash, drain and cut the tofu into small cubes as well.
cut the spinach or any other asian greens you like into small shreds.
Peel and cut the carrots into small slices as well
let cool. meanwhile, prepare a bowl of water (to dip your hands in) and a working space to make the dumplings.
Place the stir-fried ingredients on the center of the wrapping, dip your fingers in the bowl and gather the edges to make a square-ish envelope.
I used an old-fashioned steamer like this:
so swiped some oil on the porous inset’s surface and placed around five dumplings at a time and steamed them for a few minutes. And you’re done. Serve hot with the sauce. I used some chili sesame oil combined with a bit of soy sauce. But I think it would be even sweeter to use a mix of plain sesame oil with dried chili flakes.