The choko is one of those vegetables that many people don’t know what to do with, or have had bad experiences of it being boiled to death and so won’t touch it with a barge pole! However it grows well locally and can be made into a variety of tasty dishes and preserves. It has a fairly bland taste but absorbs flavours really well from sauces, marinades etc. Louise Vos has written up some choko info for us to tempt you to give chokos a go. We’ve got some on sale at the EcoCentre, and you may well find a neighbour with plenty in their garden willing to share!
Choko’s International History:
Cantonese market gardeners brought choko to NZ last century. Every country has it’s own name and recipes for our common Choko. In Réunion, the French serve choko in many dishes and as a popular starter of Chou chou au Gratin baked with a cheese sauce (see below), as a side with a meal and even as a dessert. Chou Chou translates to “Green Darling”, Sweet hey?
In Mauritius, it is mixed with beef, pork or chicken for popular dumplings that can be found in restaurants and snacks all over the island. Stems and leaves are consumes in bouillon to accompany rice and other dishes. The chou chou is also consumed as pickle, salad, gratin, curry and sauté with beef, egg or chicken.
Known as Chayote in Brazil and other Latin American it’s breaded and fried, or used cooked in salads, soups and soufflés. In the Philippines, it’s most often in stir-fry and chop-suey. In Indonesia it’s widely planted for its shoots and fruit. In India and Nepal, chow-chow is widely used in everyday cooking including curries, stews and chutney. In West Bengal, it is generally known as squash and used in curries, or sautéed, cooked with fish, eggs or mutton. In Louisiana Creole and Cajun cuisine, the fruit is most popular around Thanksgiving, in a variety of recipes. In China, it’s generally stir-fried. In Taiwan, and southern mainland China, and Thailand they’re planted for their shoots, along with the young leaves, eaten as a vege.
Meal ideas: Chokos can be diced, boiled or steamed and served with melted butter, cheese sauce, or the sauce of your choice. Sauté with garlic butter and herbs. Slice into vege bake or frittata. Cut in strips for stir-fry. Quarters or half for roasting. Grate into salad and wraps. Halves can be stuffed. Add to stews and soup. Awesome in curries. Add to fruit salad. Pickle, ferment, or use as a base for relishes. They can be used in desserts, tarts, breads, jams or cakes.
Cooking ideas from Wikipedia: Chokos can be sliced lengthwise and eaten using salad dressing dip. The seed is edible and very delicious served cold when dipped in dressing. Served cold the fruit and seed are delicious and very nutritional full of vitamin C.
Preparation for cooking: Peel, cut in half and remove the seed of large ones. Mature seeds have a nutty flavour you may like. Keep skins on if boiling/steaming to keep flavour and allow 15-20mins cooking time- or until tender. Young/smaller chokos don’t need to peeling or de-seeding.
Storage: uncooked chokos will keep for a few weeks in a plastic bag in the fridge.
Choko Nutrition (Uncooked): Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz) Energy 80 kJ (19 kcal) Carbohydrates 4.51g Sugars 1.66g Dietary fiber 1.7g Fat 0.13g Protein 0.82g Vitamins: Thiamine (B1) (2%) 0.025mg Riboflavin (B2) (2%) 0.029mg Niacin (B3) (3%) 0.47 mg Pantothenic acid (B5) (5%) 0.249mg Vitamin B6 (6%) 0.076mg Folate (B9) (23%) 93μg Vitamin C (9%) 7.7mg Vitamin E (1%) 0.12mg Vitamin K (4%) 4.1μg Minerals: Calcium (2%) 17 mg Iron (3%) 0.34mg Magnesium (3%) 12mg Phosphorus (3%) 18mg Potassium (3%) 125mg Zinc (8%) 0.74mg
3 medium chokos (about 1 kg), quartered 3 medium onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons salt 12 cloves
12 peppercorns 3 1/2 cups white vinegar
1 teaspoon mixed spice 1 cup golden syrup
1 tablespoon mustard powder 1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon plain flour 2 tablespoons cold water
Preparation: 45min › Cook: 40min › Ready in: 1hour 25min
Peel, core, chop, and then put chokos and onion in large bowl, mixing salt throughout. Leave at room temperature overnight. Drain the vegetables, discarding the liquid.
Tie the cloves and peppercorns in a square of muslin. Place the vinegar, muslin bag, mixed spice and golden syrup in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the choko mixture and boil until just tender (20 mins). Remove from the heat. Throw away the muslin bag. Combine the mustard powder, curry powder and plain flour in a small bowl, and blend to a smooth paste with water. Add to the choko mixture, stirring constantly. Cook over medium heat until the mixture comes to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to stand for 15 minutes. Ladle the warm pickles into clean, warm, dry jars. Seal and set aside to cool completely. Store for up to one year in a cool, dark place. Once opened, refrigerate and use within a month. Recipe from http://allrecipes.com.au
Easy French Choko Gratin
Serves 4, Prep time 15mins, Cooking time- 45, Level- Easy
1 kg of green darlings (Choko) 1 C. Tablespoons flour
1 C. Butter ½ glass of milk
4 cloves of crushed garlic 4 sprigs of thyme or 1 tbsp dried thyme
1 C. Vegetable oil 70 g grated cheese
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs 1 knob of butter for the mold
Salt & pepper
Preheat the oven to 180 ° C (thermostat 6).
Peel the darlings. Remove the heart. Slice, then cube.
Boil in large pot of salted water, with thyme sprigs, a tablespoon of oil and a peeled and crushed garlic clove. Cook till soft. Drain then purée them with a fork or with a masher.
Prepare the sauce in a pot: Melt the butter. Mix in a spoonful of flour with a wooden spoon. Add the last 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed. Pour in the milk gradually, while continuing to stir. The sauce will thicken little by little. Add salt and pepper.
Butter a casserole/pie dish. Put the darlings in it. Top with the sauce. Cover with grated cheese and sprinkle with bread crumbs.
(In Kaitaia you could top with diced bacon/peppers/red onion… You could add cubes of cooked kumera and florets of broccoli/cauli, dice carrot…)
Bake for 30 minutes. When the gratin is well browned, serve immediately.