Chayote (sayote in Filipino), pronounced as "chah-YOH-tey" or sah-YOH-tey," is a vegetable belonging to the squash or gourd family Cucurbitaceae. It has a pear-like shape, pale green skin with slight ridges or grooves, and firm pale white flesh.
Although botanically a fruit, it is prepared as a vegetable, similar to other types of squash. It has a mild and crisp flavor used in savory dishes in the Philippines.
What does chayote taste like?
Chayote has a mild flavor, often described as a combination of cucumber and zucchini. It has a crisp and crunchy raw texture, similar to a firm apple or pear.
When cooked, it becomes tender with a slightly sweet and nutty taste. Its versatility allows it to absorb the flavors of other ingredients in a dish, making it a popular choice in various savory recipes.
What are the health benefits of chayote?
According to Healthline, chayote offers numerous health benefits, with various essential vitamins and minerals. It is rich in antioxidants such as vitamin C that promote youthful skin and combat aging, and myricetin, a powerful flavonoid that supports overall health.
Additionally, chayote is an excellent source of folate for crucial cell growth and fetal development in pregnant women. Not only is it low in calories and carbs, but its high fiber content helps regulate blood sugar levels and aid in weight loss by helping you feel fuller longer.
Including chayote in a well-balanced diet alongside various fruits and vegetables can significantly enhance your overall health and well-being. However, if you have specific health concerns or sensitivities, consult with a healthcare professional.
How to buy
Choose firm and evenly colored chayote, avoiding soft or overly wrinkled ones with bruises or blemishes. Although bumpy, the skin should be smooth and free from wrinkles or dark spots.
The pale or light green color indicates freshness and quality. Smaller ones are typically younger, with more flavor and better texture than larger ones. Mature chayote has furrowed skin with small hair-like spines.
How to store
Keep chayote in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight. If you plan to use them within a few days, you can store them at room temperature.
For longer storage, loosely wrap them in plastic and refrigerate for a few weeks. To store cut chayote, tightly wrap them with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
If you want to freeze chayote, cut them into desired pieces and blanch them quickly in hot water. After blanching, transfer them to an airtight container and freeze. They should stay fresh in the freezer for up to 3 months.
How to prepare
Wash the chayote thoroughly under running water to remove dirt or debris. Cut them in half lengthwise, following the natural grooves from the stem to the bottom. Use a spoon or knife to scoop out the seed from the center of each half.
Carefully peel the chayote using a vegetable peeler or knife, taking note of its slippery nature and sap release. As an option, you can leave the skin on as it is edible.
Slice the chayote into desired pieces and use them in your preferred recipes.
Filipino recipes with chayote
Chayote is a versatile ingredient used in various Filipino dishes. It is often used interchangeably with green papaya and upo (bottle gourd). Here are some of our favorite recipes:
- Ginisang Sayote: Sautéed chayote with garlic, onions, tomatoes, and other vegetables or meat.
- Tinolang Manok: Chicken tinola with chayote, ginger, and moringa leaves (malunggay) or chili pepper leaves (dahon ng sili).
- Chop Suey: A stir-fried medley of vegetables with meat or seafood, and a slightly thickened sauce made with soy sauce and oyster sauce.
- Ginataang Manok: Chicken stewed in coconut milk with aromatics and vegetables.
- Tortang Sayote: Fluffy scrambled eggs with grated chayote and aromatics, served with banana ketchup.
- Dinuguan: A pork blood stew containing meat and offal, cooked with vinegar, coconut milk, and sometimes chayote for a crisp and subtly sweet contrast of flavor.
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