Asian Seafood Noodles with Chayote Squash

Happy New Year, everyone! I was hoping to surprise you with some lovely Champagne Cupcakes I made last night, but alas there was a mishap with the frosting. (Grrr, frosting! I always, always mess up the frosting!). Maybe for Valentine’s Day I’ll share them with you, because they are too fluffy and good not share! Now back to today’s post :-)

With my cupcakes not dressed properly for the occasion, I have decided to share with you an adaption of what some like to call my Asian Bouillabaisse, which is based on a Filipino dish my mother likes to make a lot. She simply calls it Chayote (actually, she calls it Sayote, pronounced sai-oh-tee).Typically, this is served over rice, but this time I chose to try to make it into a pancit and used rice sticks instead. Lucky for us, noodles are considered an Asian New Years good luck food (see, lucky I had this recipe handy when the cupcakes failed!). Know what else is lucky? Cooked greens, like cabbage, in this case baby Bok Choy. The idea is that these leafy greens represent folded paper money. Bring on the new year!

Ingredients

  • 3 large chayote squash, peeled, cored, and cut into large cubes
  • 3 heads baby bok choy, roughly chopped
  • ½ lb of shrimp, scallops, or pork loin cut in thin strips
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ a jalepeno pepper, cut lengthwise
  • ¼ fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Juice if ½ a lime
  • Fish sauce, start with 2 tbsp
  • 1 tsp cayenne or chili pepper powder
  • 3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 2 tbsp vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 package rice stick noodles

 Directions

  1. In a 6 qt pot, heat oil over medium high heat
  2. Add minced garlic and and jalepeno pepper, and stir until fragrant
  3. Add broth, water, wine, and half of the cilantro to the pot and bring to a boil
  4. Add fish sauce (start with 2 tbsp) and cayenne or chili pepper and let boil for about another minute
  5. Taste the broth. If the flavor is not salty enough for you, add more fish sauce 1 tbsp at a time. If it’s not spicy enough, add more cayenne or chili pepper 1 tsp at at ime
  6. If you are using pork, add to the broth now
  7. Add Chayote squash to the broth. Bring to a boil and let cook at a boil for about 5 minutes
  8. Taste broth again for saltiness and spiciness and adjust as earlier if needed
  9. If you are using scallops, add to the broth now and cook 2-3 minutes
  10. Add shrimp to pot, cook 2 minutes.
  11. With a slotted spoon, remove everything from the boiling broth and place into a large bowl or dish.
  12. Reduce heat to medium low and add the rice sticks to the broth. Make sure there is enough broth to submerge the rice sticks. If they look like they are swimming around in the pot, there is too much liquid. Remove stock ¼ cup at a time.
  13. Allow rice sticks to cook and absorb the broth. When softened, remove any excess broth that remains.
  14. Add everything back to the pot and toss with the rice sticks.
  15. Add bok choy on top and cover pot. Allow bok choy to steam for about 3 minutes. When it has wilted, it is done.
  16. Toss again and serve.

Preparing Chayote Squash

1. After rinsing Chayote, use a vegetable peeler to peel the skin. It will come off easily. After exposure to air, you may notice dewy drops on the flesh of the squash and a possibly a tight feeling on your skin as if soap had dried on it.

2. Hold squash on its narrow side (wide side is perpendicular to the cutting board) and cut in half.

3.Cut each half in half again. You should have pear-esque like wedges now, which will allow for easier removal of the pit

4. Use a pairing knife cut out the pit as you would when coring an apple or pear slice. I typically cut in a V shape.

 
 
 
 
 
I’d like to talk a little about the Chayote, since I know that many people are not familiar with this  strange fruit. It is native to Mexico, so you may be wondering how it ended up in an Asian dish. Well, that part is easy. My Spanish ancestors on my mother’s side brought it across the Pacific with them when they colonized the Philippines. According to Wikipedia and some follow  up searches on mirliton, apparently it has a place in Creole and Cajun cuisine as well. The closest substitute I can think of for a dish like this is a cucumber, mainly because of the taste and its ability to absorb flavors. It’s texture is like that of an apple. I hope this doesn’t wierd you out about trying it. I think you’ll love it!
 

~Ruth

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