Pear-shaped chayote squash was initially cultivated in ancient Mexico and from there spread throughout the Caribbean region, where it's known as cho-cho in anglophone areas and christophene in francophone ones. From Mexico, the Spanish brought it to the Philippines, where it remains popular; and from there it spread to China and Southeast Asia. It has a delicate and refreshing light flavour and a soft fine texture; each weighs about 10 oz (300 g). Buy it at most Asian, West Indian (especially Jamaican) and Latin grocers and at many supermarkets. Except for stuffed chayote (a Mexican specialty), chayote is generally peeled (the peel secretes a resin that you should wash off your hands after peeling). You can remove the central core and seed or cook it with the delicious kernel. Serve chayote simply boiled or steamed and lightly seasoned, or blanched, then sautéed in a little oil and garlic. In Mexico, cooks use chayote in salads or pan-fry blanched chayote slices dipped in flour, egg and bread crumbs. It is often cooked in a cream sauce or stuffed and baked. In the Philippines and China, chayote is often added to soups; it is especially delicious boiled in chicken broth. Chayote is low in calories and a very good source of vitamins C and B6, potassium, copper and manganese.
2 chayote squashes, peeled and quartered
Pinch each salt and pepper
each extra-virgin olive oil and lemon juice
Remove the central core and seed (add pits to pot if desired). Cut flesh into chunks; steam over boiling water until tender, 7 to 8 minutes. Drain; season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with extra-virgin olive oil and lemon juice.
Makes 4 servings.
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