Trái Su Su (aka Chayote) is one of those vegetables that remind me what a small world this is. I grew up eating this and figured it was an Asian vegetable but later found that it is actually native to Latin America, where it is a predominant vegetable in many parts, particularly Mexico and Costa Rica. I remember my mom making this dish for the Latino men who worked for my Dad. They happily ate it and thought it was so curious that this little Asian lady knew how to cook their chayote.
Interestingly, it is called chou-chou on the French Island of Reúnion*, which makes me wonder if that has anything to do with why it’s called Su Su in Viet Nam, a former French colony. If you grow them, you know how adorable they look, like jade green pears that hang from a vine.
Su Su’s mild flavor makes it easy to combine with other savory ingredients like pork, chicken or shiitake mushrooms. In this stir-fry, its delicate and somewhat bland taste is a nice balance to the brininess of the dried shrimp. Once grated or cut, it’s incredibly quick to cook. I hope you enjoy it con mucho gusto.
Su Su Xào
INGREDIENTS: (4-6 servings, as part of a meal)
- 1/2 cup dried shrimp
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3-4 medium-sized Su Su (approx. 3/4 lb), cut into thin matchsticks
- 2 tsp. fish sauce
- Reconstitute the dried shrimp by placing them in a small bowl and barely cover with water. Microwave on high for 1-2 minutes. Set aside.
- Cut the su su in half and discard the pit. Prepare using a knife or mandoline. (No need to peel).
- Mince the garlic.
- Drain the dried shrimp.
- Add about 1 Tbl. of oil to a med-hot pan and toss in the garlic along with the shrimp. Cook for about 1 minute.
- Add the su su and fish sauce. Cook for about 2-3 minutes, constantly stirring. The su su should be cooked but still have a little crunch to them.
- Check seasoning and add more fish sauce if needed.