Su Su Xào – Chayote Stir-Fry

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

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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
  • oil

STEPS:

  • 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.

¡Buen Provecho!

*source

You like Kabocha, dontcha?

 

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I think a lot of people like to press the Shuffle button on their MP3 player to mix things up and hear a variety of songs. Not me. If I like a song, I’ll put in on Replay for-ev-er. Sometimes, I’ll listen to the same dang song like, 100 times before I move on to another.

Am I obsessive? Compulsive? My answer to that fluctuates. What is constant is my attachment to a good thing once I find it. This is how I am now with Kabocha pumpkin. Kabocha muffins for breakfast. Kabocha soup for lunch. Kabocha-stuffed pasta for dinner. How ’bout Kabocha pumpkin pie, anyone?

It was the same with Butternut squash a while back. And there was that winter-long fling with Meyer lemons – which, late at night, I still think of. Oh, and let’s not forget my fixation with pomelos.

Nowadays, my fancy turns to Kabocha. Can you blame me? Kabocha, with its deep, emerald skin flushed against this intense, orange flesh is like Butternut’s sexier, curvier, non-surgically altered and intellectually superior cousin. And, it doesn’t need a ton of makeup to look good, either. I mean, who would you rather go home with???

That’s what I thought. So next time you’re at the market, look out for Kabocha. Cook responsibly.

 

Soupe au Potiron – Kabocha pumpkin bisque

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INGREDIENTS: (4-6 servings)

  • 1 medium-sized Kabocha pumpkin (approx 3-4lbs)
  • 1 Tbl. of canola oil + more for coating pumpkin
  • 3 medium shallots, finely diced
  • chubby piece of ginger (approx 1 inch length), peeled and minced
  • 1/2 tsp of freshly ground star anise + a tiny pinch for sprinkling
  • 1/2 tsp of freshly ground cassia cinnamon + a tiny pinch for sprinkling
  • 1 quart of homemade or quality store-bought chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup half & half or whole cream
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper

STEPS:

  • Cut the Kabocha pumpkin in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Rub the cut sides with oil and sprinkle with a tiny pinch of the star anise and cinnamon. Place the pumpkin, cut-side down on a foil/parchment-lined cookie sheet.
  • In an oven preheated to 350F, roast the pumpkin for about 35 minutes (or until a knife can be inserted with little resistance).
  • Set aside to cool for about 15 minutes. Then scoop out the flesh.
  • Meanwhile, set a large saucepan to med heat, add the oil.
  • Next, add the shallot and ginger. Cook (sweat) the shallots and ginger until the shallots are softened and translucent, being careful not to add too much color.
  • Add the cooked pumpkin and spices and cook for another minute.
  • Add the chicken stock and stir to combine and heated through.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Using an immersion blender or regular blender, purée the soup until smooth.*
  • Stir the cream into the soup.
  • Check seasoning again and add more S+P if necessary. Serve warm.

*If you use a regular blender, please use extreme caution as the hot liquid will explode everywhere if you try to blend too much at a time. Fill only up to 1/3 of the blender at a time. Bon appétit!

 

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