chowchow

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Also known as

Chayote Squash, Tayota, Choku.

Description

Chow chow or as commonly known as chayote is an edible plant that belongs to the gourd family Cucurbitaceae along with melons, cucumbers and squash. The plant has large leaves that form a canopy over the fruit. The vine is grown on the ground or more commonly on trellises. Chow chow was first domesticated in Mexico, where the fruit is used in both raw and cooked forms. In the most common variety, the fruit is roughly pear or apple shaped, somewhat flattened and with coarse wrinkles, ranging from 10 to 20 cm in length. It looks like a green pear and it has a thin green skin fused with the white flesh, and a single large flattened pip. The flesh has a fairly bland taste, and a texture described as a cross between a potato and a cucumber. Although generally discarded, the seed has a nutty flavour and may be eaten as part of the fruit. When cooked, the vegetable is usually handled like summer squash, and it is generally lightly cooked to retain the crisp flavour.

Chopped chowchow
Chopped chow chow- Place the peeled and washed chow chow fruit on a chopping board and chop it into small pieces. Can be finely chopped or roughly chopped or chopped into big chunks as per recipe requirement.
Chowchow cubes

Turn the chow chow on its side and make a series of slices. Lay the slices on top of each other and make a series of lengthwise slices, (½ inch slices for smaller cubes, 1 inch slices for larger cubes. Make a series of ½ inch or 1 inch crosswise cuts through the how chow and it will fall away into cubes.
Chowchow strips
Cut the chow chow into thin or thick strips as per recipe requirement
Grated chow chow- this requires grating the chow chow in a hand held grater. This grated chow chow is fine in texture and is used for making baked dishes like au gratin or casseroles or raitas.

Deseeded chowchow

While the seeds are edible and nutritious, some people prefer not to eat them. To easily remove them, cut the cucumber lengthwise and use the tip of a spoon to gently scoop them out.
Sliced chowchow
You may place the peeled chow chow in a slicer or slice them in thin or thick slices with a sharp knife, as per the recipe requirement.


How to select

As chow chow are very sensitive to heat, choose ones that are displayed in refrigerated cases in the market. They should be firm, rounded at their edges, and their color should be a bright medium to dark green. Fresh green chow chow should be firm and without brown spots or signs of sprouting. Smaller chayotes are more tender. Avoid chow chow that are yellow, puffy, have sunken water-soaked areas, or are wrinkled at their tips. While many people are used to purchasing cow chow squash that have a waxed coating, it is highly recommended to choose those that are unwaxed, so the nutrient-rich skin can be eaten without consuming the wax and any chemicals trapped in it.

Culinary uses

1. Raw chow chow may be added to salads or salsas, and it is often marinated with lemon or lime juice.
2. Although most people are familiar only with the fruit, the root, stem, seeds, and leaves are all edible.The tubers of the plant are eaten like potatoes and other root vegetables. In addition, the shoots and leaves can be consumed, and they are often used in salads and stir fries, especially in Asia
3. The fruit does not need to be peeled and can be eaten raw in salads. Cooked or raw, it has a very mild flavor by itself, and is commonly served with seasonings (e.g., salt, butter and pepper in Australia) or in a dish with other vegetables and/or flavorings.
4. It can also be boiled, stuffed, mashed, baked, fried, or pickled
5. In India, chow chow squash is cut and added to lentils and cooked similar to sambhar which is then relished with steamed rice.

How to store

Chow chow should be stored in the refrigerator where they will keep for several days. If you do not use the entire chow chow during one meal, wrap the remainder tightly in plastic or place it in a sealed container so that it does not become dried out. For maximum quality, chow chow should be used within one or two days. Chow chow should not be left out at room temperature for too long as this will cause them to wilt and become limp.

Health benefits

1. Whether raw or cooked, chayote is a good source of amino acids and vitamin C.
2. The leaves and fruit have diuretic, cardiovascular and anti-inflammatory properties, and a tea made from the leaves has been used in the treatment of arteriosclerosis and hypertension




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