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Choko Crazy
© Sue Courtney
29 April 2001

Choko vine taking over the shed The vine is out of control. While this is the traditional time of the year to harvest the choko this vine's been producing almost the whole year around. It is so prolific; it has taken over the shed and the water tank.

Perhaps it is because the vine is planted near the graveyard, where the lambs that didn't make it and the old hens are buried. Perhaps it is because the vine was planted facing east-north-east, plenty of morning sun and protected from the southerly and westerly winds that prevail. Or perhaps it is because we've had such mild winters in Auckland. Who knows? But now I've an abundance of fruit. Fortunately I love chokos, otherwise we never would have persevered with growing the vine, which seems hard to tame in this, the 'third-time-lucky', site.

Choko has a variety of names, depending on the country you're from. Firing a question to other food-lovers, it seems the most common name in the US is Chayote although someone also mentioned Mirliton. Like us here in New Zealand, the Aussies call them chokos, but a search on the web came us with many, many alternatives, which I've listed as an appendix at the bottom of this page.

It seems many people have an aversion to choko. I offer them to my friends and get response like 'Yuk, I don't know how you eat them'. I think this is reaction is evoked by memories of childhood when all our vegetables, not just chokos, were boiled to death in water until all the taste was knocked out of them. But the secret with choko is not to overcook. A little cooking heightens the colour to a bright pale green, too much cooking turns the colour a dull beige.

Choose freshly harvested chokos if you can, although they keep quite well. The skin should be bright and the fruit should not be sprouting.

Chokos are very versatile, they can be eaten raw, boiled, fried, baked or stewed. You can simply grate into salads, or cook. Here are some of my favourite recipes.

Chokos in a White Sauce
Chokos in a creamy herb sauce
Easy Baked Chokos
Baked Chokos 2
Stuffed Chokos
Choko Soup
Sauteed Chokos
Choko Stuffing or Dumplings
Choko and Pork Roll-ups
Choko Stew

Chokos in a White Sauce
(Serves 2) Vegetables in white sauce are like a comfort food and chokos in white sauce, especially so.
Peel and chop one choko, cut into 6 or eight wedges, depending on size of choko, then cut each wedge into three.
Boil chokos in water for 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and add cold water to the saucepan when chokos are soft to the bite but still bright green in colour.
Add to a white sauce and garnish with your favourite herb, for serving.

White Sauce. I tend to make my white sauce in the microwave as it is harder to burn.
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup milk
ground pepper

Microwave butter in a microwave safe jug until melted (20 to 30 seconds). Remove. Add flour to melted butter, stir vigorously until well combined. Add some of the milk and stir well to integrate. Then add the rest of the milk. Replace into microwave and cook for a minute on high. Remove and stir well. Return to microwave and cook on high for two minutes. Remove. Crack in some black pepper. Stir vigorously again. Cook for another to minutes. Remove and stir well again and sauce should be thickened to perfection.

To the cooked sauce, add the cooked, drained chokos. Stir so all the choko is covered with the sauce. Stir in chopped fresh sweet herbs, parsley or whatever you fancy. Serve as a vegetable accompaniment.
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Creamy Herbed Chokos
2 tbsp butter
1/2 small onion, chopped very fine
2 rashers of bacon, chopped fine.
1 medium-sized choko, peeled and cut into chunky cubes (cut choko into 8 wedges, then each wedge into 3 cubes).
A handful of fresh chopped herb of one variety, either basil, or coriander or parsley.
1/2 cup cream.

Melt butter and saute onions and bacon until onions are golden. Add cubed chokos and saute for 2-3 minutes more. Transfer to a casserole dish sprinkle with herbs and top with cream. Cover and cook in a 180°C oven for about 25 minutes or until choko are soft but still bright in colour. Serve as a vegetable accompaniment to a main dish.

Easy Baked Chokos
This is so easy. The method steams the flesh to produce a juicy result.
If you have chokos with prickles, knock of the prickles with the blade of a peeler, but otherwise leave the skin on.
Place a piece of baking paper in an ovenproof dish. Cut chokos in half and lay choko, cut side down, on the paper in the dish.
Bake in a 180°C oven for about 40 minutes (test with a fork to see if cooked).
To serve, place cut side up on plate. Make diamond shapes cuts into the flesh with a knife. Smother in butter and salt and pepper. Enjoy.
If the chokos are really young and fresh, you will find the skin is tender and quite edible.
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Baked Chokos 2
Good when you are baking quite a few vegetables, eg potatoes, kumaras and pumpkin. Peel chokos and cut into quarters. Place into baking dish at about the same time as the pumpkin.
Sometimes I quickly pan fry the quarters in hot butter first to give a crispy, golden exterior to the vegetable.
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Stuffed Chokos
Chokos are a great shape for stuffing. This recipe uses left over spaghetti noodles, carrot and cheese.

to stuff two chokos you will need -
1/2 small onion
1/4 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup grated cheese
1/4 cup cooked, left-over spaghetti noodles (or orzo, if you prefer)
Herbs and seasonings.

Finely chop the onion. Chop the spaghetti into about 2cm lengths.
Saute the onion in butter with the grated carrot until soft. Remove and mix together with the spaghetti, grated cheese and finely chopped fresh herbs from the garden.

Halve chokos, scoop out the nut and enough flesh to make a cavity to hold your stuffing. You may want to cut a small piece of the underside of the choko so they sit nicely in the baking dish and on the plate.

Fill the choko cavities - about 1/4 cup of the mixture in each cavity.
Bake in a moderate oven until vegetable is cooked.

Serve on its own as an entrée, or as a vegetable accompaniment to a main dish.
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Choko Soup
Choko soup This is great for lazy weekend lunch or for a dinner starter.
1 onion
3 rashers bacon
3 chokos.
1 carrot
1 teaspoon chicken stock powder
3 cups water

Chop onion and bacon roughly.
Peel and chop 2 and 1/2 of the chokos, into cubes.
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan. Add onion and bacon and saute for 4-5 minutes. Add the chopped chokos and saute for another 5 minutes.
Sprinkle with chicken stock powder than add 2 cups of water. Stir well to combine. Bring to boil and simmer for about 20 minutes.
Put aside and leave to cool, then puree the contents of the saucepan, using a stick blender or whatever you have.
If the mixture is too thick, you could add more water to bring to desired consistency. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

While soup is cooking prepare the remaining half of the choko and the carrot to make Sauteed Choko and Carrot (see below).
Add half of the sauteed choko and half of the sauteed carrot to the soup along with a handful of chopped parsley. This adds some bright colour to the soup, which through blending has turned a greeny tinged beige colour.

Reheat soup - do not boil. Spoon into serving bowls. Garnish with a tablespoon of fresh cream and the remainder of the grated carrot and choko.
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Sauteed Choko and Carrot.
Grate half a choko and put to one side.
Grate a carrot so you have about the same quantity of carrot as you do of choko.
Heat about a tablespoon of butter in a frying pan.
Add carrot and saute until cooked. Remove.
Add choko and saute until cook but ensure colour retains some hints of bright green.
Add salt and plenty of black pepper.
Serve as a vegetable accompaniment to a main course, or use to enhance choko soup (see above) or as addition to stuffing or dumplings (see below).
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Choko Stuffing or Dumplings
I used this to stuff a roast chicken but thought they would also make wonderful dumplings.
3 slices of bread
A handful of fresh herbs from the garden. I used thyme, oregano, rosemary sage, basil, parsley, basil and chives.
half a cup of sauteed choko and carrot - see above,
Salt and pepper
One egg.

Place slices of bread and washed and towel dried herbs into the blender. Blend until the bread is crumbed and the herbs are chopped very fine. Remove into a bowl. Add the sauteed choko and carrot, salt and paper and the egg. Mix well. This mixture sticks together very well. Either form into balls to cook as dumplings, or stuff into a chicken for roasting.
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Choko and Pork Roll-ups
Choko and Pork roll-ups This is a modification of the recipe I used for the Pork and Pear roll-ups.
As many slices of Pork Schnitzel as you need. (1 or 2 per person).
'Rosemary Sage' leaves

Beat schnitzel until thin.
Peel and quarter the chokos.
Layer a couple of the 'rosemary sage' leaves on the pork, place a piece of choko on the leaves and roll-up the pork.
Secure with a toothpick.
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan. Add the pork and brown on all sides.
Remove to a casserole dish.
Add salt and pepper to the pan and deglaze with 1/4 cup of chardonnay
Pour the liquid over the roll-ups in the casserole dish.
Cover and cook in a 180° oven for about 40 minutes, or until pork and choko are cooked.
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Choko Stew
This is adapted from a Greek recipe - Kolokithakia Yahni. I make this with marrow and when chokos are in season, then chokos are what I use. Fresh tomatoes are still available and reasonably priced at the beginning of the choko season.

2 chokos, peeled and chopped into cubes
1 large chopped onion
4 large tomatoes peeled and chopped (or a 450gm can of whole tomatoes)
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup water
Salt and pepper

Heat oil in a saucepan. Add onion, cook until golden then add the tomatoes, seasonings, herbs and water and cook for about 5 minutes more. Add the chopped chokos and cook slowly for about 30 minutes.
This is delicious served topped with grated cheese.
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I have many eggs at the moment, thanks to my free range chickens, so one-day I'll attempt a choko souffle.

Choko can also be preserved into pickles or relish. For any recipe that uses marrow or squash, choko can be substituted. I've more recipes to try and more ideas to experiment, so as I try something new I'll add it to this page.

Bon Appetit

© Sue Courtney.

Appendix - Alternative names for Choko
brionne, cayota, chayote, chayotl, chocho, cho-cho, chochoute, christophine, chuchu, cidrayota, custard marrow, gayota, güisquil, Guisayote, huisquil, machiche, machuchu, Madeira marrow, mango squash, merliton, mirliton, papa del aire, pepinella, uisquil, vegetable pear, xuxu,

Here's a resource page for Choko, with information on nutritional value amongst other things.

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