Like Gourds for Apples: How to Treat Chayote

By Sean Kenniff | Antoinette Bruno

By

Sean Kenniff
Antoinette Bruno
Chayote, Vadouvan Curry, and Radish Sprouts
Chayote, Vadouvan Curry, and Radish Sprouts

Though widely known (when it’s known at all) as a squash, the chayote fruit is technically a gourd and a mere close relative to squash. Melons and cucumbers are all in the family as well. Chayote is eaten in the American South, especially in Louisiana where it sometimes goes by the name mirliton—rolls of the tongue!—and throughout Latin America. The stout, pale green, slightly rippled-skinned fruit has a crisp flesh and subtle summer squash-y flavor. “I like to think of chayote like a savory apple,” say Chef Walter Edward of Seattle’s Tallulah. “I typically peel it, core it, and slice it like an apple. Then I roast it with a little bit of olive oil and salt until it’s soft and lightly browned.”

Taking chayote way out of its comfort zone as a regional bit-player wasn’t enough for Edward. He not only spotlights the chayote but deepens the mild flavor 18-fold—the number of ingredients in his curry powder. “It’s a very simple dish, highlighting the natural flavors of chayote and accented with daikon radish sprouts to add crunch and brightness, and a vadouvan curry, the French version of masala. The main difference is the addition of shallots to vadouvan which are dried after being caramelized to provide sweetness, richness, and balance. We cook it with coconut milk for the creamy texture.” Edwards spreads the coconut curry sauce on a plate, arranges the wedges of cooked gord on top, and finishes with sprouts. Suddenly, in a three component dish, the modest chayote has found French-Indian sophistication, far north of its southern home.

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