Saturday, February 14, 2009

Chayotte stirfry (su su xa`o) - and a little bit on my cooking philosophy



Chayotte has its natural sweet taste and provides for a light, refreshing vegetable. Vietnamese uses chayotte (chouchou, or "su su") in alot of our vegetarian dishes and soups. Chayotte wasn't cheap in Vietnam since only certain region with cooler climate (like Da Lat) can grow it. I remember the couple times our family got to go to Da Lat, you could tell who the tourists were because they were stocking up chayottes, potatoes, beets, strawberries, etc. L.O.L. The excitement was like when one goes to Hawaii and finds the heaps of fresh locally grown tropical fruits.....well, perhaps not so much for Californians since we do have many tropical fruits available locally, but say for an Asian who's been living in the midwest for a long time for example, anyways you get the idea. I remember growing up as a kid in Vietnam, we didn't get to eat such "cool-climate" vegetables very often, since it is rather expensive at the local market in Saigon, due to the transportation I supposed. So when we did, I enjoyed it immensely. Here in the US, chayotte is widely available in grocery stores, American and Asian markets alike. My family always likes it, my Mom often incorporated chayotte into her home cookings. And because of its refreshing sweet taste, chayotte stir fry has always had its place in my list of favorite home-cooked foods.
I didn't "learn" this dish from my Mom, but watching her cook it plenty of times was enough for me to pick up on the recipe, which is very simple and isn't much of a recipe at all. Hahah...but that's perfect, didn't I admit that most of my home cookings are simple recipes and easy to make? and mostly healthy, just what home foods are supposed to be :-) For me, it doesn't take a chef and everything doesn't have to be made from scratch, as long as I put some time, some care, and some consideration into the loved persons that I feed, it'll be all good :-) Though I try to put some measurable quantities in my recipes, in reality I don't usally measure my recipes axactly to the tsp, alot of times it is taste-and-feel, if I like it more salty, sprinkle on some salt, or if I like it a little sweeter then add a dab of sugar....you get the ideas. Cooking is about feeling the foods and create it to each person's taste, a recipe is a guideline but in no meaning should it be a formula.

Back to the stir fry dish, here's the simple cooking instruction for it. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
+ 3 large chayotte, peeled.
+ 2 tbsp of dried shrimps
+ 3 stalks of green onions
+ 2-3 tbsp water, depends
+ 1tsp salt or less
+ 1tsp soysauce
+ 1 tbsp oil
+ Sprinkles of ground pepper
+ 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced OR 1/2 tsp garlic powder.

Preps:
+ Cut the chayotte into halves, scoop out the seeds. Then cut into thin strips (sized around the diameter of a chopstick, length about 2-3 in)
+ Cut green onions into 1/2 inch lengths, seperate the green and the white.



Cooking Instructions:
+ Heat up the oil in a big wok. If you use fresh garlic, add it now.
+ Add dried shrimps and the white parts of onions, stir occasionally for 1 minute to let the shrimp, onion and garlic brown a little bit.



+ Keep high heat, add chayotte strips. Then add soysauce, a little bit of water, sprinkle salt (and garlic powder if use powder) evenly onto the mix.
+ Stir occasionally for 5-7 minutes so that the strips can cook evenly.
+ Add more water and salt if needed. The chayotte itself yields some juice, you don't want it too dry it'll burn the chayotte, but don't want too watery either. About 3 tbsp of "juicy sauce" left at the end is about what we want.
+ Lastly, stir in the green parts of onions and sprinkle some ground pepers. Let it cook for another 1 minute.
+ Turn off heat, keep it covered for another few minutes.

2 comments:

Tan.wiratchada said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tan.wiratchada said...

Hi Trang,
Happy to see you back. I looking forward for your recipes.

Your Chayotte recipe so lovely and yes I can find in Thailand but not so much. And thank you for adviced.
I'll try for sure.