Chayote Squash

Christophine

This morning, Maxence and I went for a stroll towards Barbès and Chateau-Rouge, a more ethnic part of the 18th arrondissement, just a few blocks from where we live. In the rue de Clignancourt, we stumbled upon a few small stores selling food (mostly) from the Antilles – the French Caribbean. We both love browsing around exotic grocery stores, and these reminded us very nicely of our recent vacation, as the Seychelles cuisine is somewhat similar to that of the Antilles.

We ended up buying a few goodies : coconut milk, a jar of hot mango pickle and a jar of tandoori paste, whole smoked herring, a piece of dried salted cod (we decided to try and get past the strong smell), plantain chips and sweet potato chips, passion fruit, guava fruit, sweet potatoes from Egypt, hot peppers, and a few christophines, white and green.

Christophines, also called chouchous, chouchoutes or chayottes, are these weird-looking vegetables, and are said to taste like potato or zucchini depending on the source. Intriguing, no? The most popular uses seem to be au gratin or boiled.

Ah, the sweet and distinctive happiness of finding a new vegetable to try!

  • http://www.mum-mum.info Wena

    reminds me of a clam about to eat me. :p

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Wena – it does look slightly dangerous an animal, doesn’t it? Don’t worry, I’ve got this one under firm control, trapped in the vegetable drawer of my fridge. :)

  • Greg

    Hello…just a little extra information. I am a Cajun from South Louisiana. We are very fond of these and the Cajun French word for them is “mirliton.” In Cajun cuisine we use them in any dish that would work with potatoes or squash. So, for example, they are delightful in a gratin. Also, I am fond of them baked with shrimp. I have also had them chopped and cooked with crabmeat. Finally, here in New Orleans (where I live) you often find them pickled.

    I just discovered your site a few weeks ago and thoroughly enjoy it!

  • Charlotte

    I was so interested to see this site & the recipes for chouchoux! I am from Mauritius but now living in South Africa and my sister who lives in Johannesburg has managed to grow these delightful vegs in her garden in abundance! They are wonderful eaten so fresh out of the garden! I steam them and then cut them into cubes when cool, and make a salad with them… just add some Olive Oil, lemon juice, herbs and a little salt! Voila! Delicieux!

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Greg and Charlotte – “Mirliton”, what a cute name! It’s great to learn that they grow in Louisiana and South Africa, too! We ended up eating them sauteed in the skillet, with (a little too much) chilli. It was delicious.

  • Che

    Hi Everyone: I am from the West Indies and just accidentally found your site! Christophenes are cooked here too. We steam them with carrots and onions and sweet pepper or grate them and salt a little cucumber, lime, parsley and hot pepper for pickle.

  • boreal

    Hey, those are chayote squash, that is how they’re sold here in california. If you go to the website http://www.pathtofreedom.com they tried growing them and they turn into a raging huge vine, I mean, really huge, and moderate fruit production. They did that last year I believe. Or perhaps the year before. I hope these comments are emailed to you and you receive it.. I’ve always eaten mine raw without the skin, in salads and like the light sweet crisp taste. They’re not very popular here, most people don’t know what they are, but a couple of stores I frequent do carry them regularly in small numbers. Yum!

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Boreal – Oh, I should try them raw then! And yup, all comments are emailed to me… :)

  • Rosemary

    I still don’t know what a mirliton is?

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Rosemary – Well, mirliton is an alternate name for the vegetable we’re talking about here, aka christophine, christophene, chouchou, chayote squash…

  • Carrie

    I once had “chayotes rellenos” at a Mexican place in Cleveland. They took thick slices of the chayote, cut out the center, stuffed them with white cheese, battered them in that wonderful light stiff-beaten egg batter, fried them, and served them with spicy red sauce. I love chiles rellenos, but this was something special. When I buy chayotes, I just saute them in a little oil because I would be too sad to mess up the memory of those rellenos!

  • Julissa

    Hi, I am Dominican and I live in New York and I have always used this veggie in Potatoe salads and I was happy to see that other people are learning how good this Veggie is.

  • Paulette

    here in Haiti, west indies, we don’t find apples very cheaply. mirliton can be lightly boiled in brown sugar and vinegar which we than cook in pastry to make a mock apple pie…but they are my favorite pureed with tender pork and spicy tomatoe paste to eat over white rice.

  • Kate

    clotilde,

    i only recently stumbled upon this dated post on christophines/chayottes/etc, and was at once reminded of a whimsical poster i bought a few years back…

    http://images.art.com/images/-/Play-With/Kissing-The-Frog–C11769308.jpeg

    don’t know if you’re at all familiar with work by the duo of saxton freymann and joost elffers, but they’ve put out a number of books filled with fruit & veggie creations… thought you might enjoy it!

    meilleurs voeux de bonheur, santé et réussite pour 2006 et bonne continuation pour la suite

  • Dylan

    I’m just catching up an archived materials…it’s Feb 2006.
    That’s what my nanny used to call Cho Cho and she made it with curried goat or oxtail stew as a side.
    She made it plain (boiled) because those two dishes are so strong. The Cho-Cho took their flavor nicely in a way that was just a bit different so they didn’t taste like more of the same.

  • Dean

    They look like (and from the French name I presume they are) what Australians call chokos. They are held in very low esteem, I guess a kind of Australian legume oublie, only older people would ever have them. I remember having them as a child, wasn’t very impressed. They are generally considered fit for animal feed only.

    Some info here: http://www.theveggielady.com/vegetables/choko.asp

  • Alli

    My family stir-fries these with garlic, ginger, and red pepper (and maybe chicken)!

  • peter hutchinson

    perhaps someone can help with a piece of information. I have eaten with enormous pleasure a simple vegetable which in the Seychelles is called patoll (maybe the spelling is not quite correct) and have found no trace of it in internet or among traders of exotic produce. It would appear to be similar to christophines and/or mirlitons or chochou etc, but not quite the same, it does not have the fat-lipped mouth but is more in the shape of a simple zucchino or courgette, tasting a little more similar to a a mild poivron, it could be related to okra?
    Anyone know what I mean?
    I would be most grateful for news to my e-mail hutchinson@nextra.at -I am beginning to think I must have dreamed it, but who dreams up the same vegetable three different holidays?

  • Brooke

    My Honduran daughter-in-law’s sister introduced me to chayote squash as part of a coconut milk based conch soup. I was very leary of trying it as I am not familiar with conch except to listen to the ocean in the shell. The soup however was incredible. It was spicy with red pepper, a little sweet with the coconut milk, thin and whitish. The Chayote was the most incredible part though. Peeled and fully cooked, it was not fiberous or watery. Chunks of it, held between the tongue and roof of the mouth collapsed with an almost gel like texture. When I returned home I experimented with making fresh coconut milk and chicken broth soup with chayote squash. I added coriander, fresh grated ginger, onions and cayanne peppers. I toasted the coconut left from making the milk and sprinkled it over the top as a garnish in the bowls. Next day I reheated it and added a little heavy cream. This and the conch soup of my neice-in-law both reminded me of Thai curry. I plan next to make a more gingery chayote soup. I also plan to try to grow it now in North Carolina in a sheltered area, thanks to global warming.

  • nivedita

    hi clotilde,
    LOVE the site. i’m just now going through all the archives so sorry about this *very* late post, but i thought better late than never:)
    about what we call chayote squash down in texas, i come from an indian family and my mother makes a lovely curry with it. she lets it steam a little bit and then sautes it with a powder made from toasted sesame, mustard seeds, a dash of cumin, salt and ground dried red peppers. occasionally coconut too. definitely hated it when i was little but one of my favorites now!

  • Montecuccolo

    In Martinique, we make then au gratin, first you cut them in two, boil them in their skin, scoop the flash out of the skins, sautee it with some bacon or ham, onion, chives and parsley, then puree it, and – this is the trick that makes the dish – you put them back in the skin, some gruyere, and in the oven. It is a million steps, but at the end, you get something very presentable to put on individual plates, and really delicious too!

  • Sandrine

    Moi, je suis mexicaine. El chayote is a 100% mexican vegetable. You can find it with or without thorns. Both have the same flavor when cooked. In Mexico we just boil it, dice it and add lemon juice, salt and a little olive oil and mmmmmmm, wonderful for a very light and nutritious salad. ¡¡Buen provecho!!!

  • Michael

    I love christophenes (chayote)!
    Has anyone tried growing them in the UK (England)?
    Michael

  • Pieter

    I grow them in my garden here in Pietermaritzburg South Africa. They are very tasty, and I have notived that the resin that comes from the seeds seems to regenerate dead skin cells.
    I was wondering if you could eat them raw?

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