Sunday, April 3, 2011

Chayote Squash Curry

I bought some chayote squash at the farmer's market and the vendor suggested making a curry out of it. It's helped me a lot to ask how to prepare the veggies when buying something unfamiliar, and chayote was a little out of my veggie comfort zone. Chayote is in the gourd family (along with cucumbers, melons, and other squash) and originates from Mesoamerica (Mexico, central America). Below is the recipe I ended up with, adapted from a Southeast Asian Squash Curry recipe found on Epicurious.

Chayote squash
Chayote Squash Curry
Makes at least 4 servings

2 or so TBL vegetable oil
2 chayote squash peeled, seeded and sliced into bite sized pieces
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 can coconut milk (don't stir after opening)
2 tsp chili garlic paste (Sambal Oelek)
1 tsp curry powder
1/3 cup water
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 whole cloves
5 cups or so fresh, torn spinach
1 TBL fish sauce
brown rice (for serving on top of)

Over medium high heat, cook the cumin seeds and squash in 1 TBL oil for 8-10 minutes or until squash begins to brown. Remove squash from pan and set aside. Turn down to medium heat, adding more oil, and cook onion until softened, about 5 minutes. Spoon 1/4 cup of the coconut milk into the onions (just the fat part at the top, not the liquid part) and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the Sambal Oelek and curry powder and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add squash, water, cinnamon, cloves, and remaining milk and simmer, covered until squash is fork tender, about 15 minutes. Add the spinach and cook for another minute or so, then finally, stir in the fish sauce.

This came out wonderful considering it was my first attempt at a curry. A couple tips, make sure you peel the squash well before slicing, it is totally unchewable. Also, in the original recipe I adapted, it calls for red curry paste versus the Sambal Oelek and curry powder, this might be a better option if you have it, there just wasn't any in my cupboards. It just goes to show that you never have to follow any recipe exactly, just improvise! 

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