Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Vietnamese Choko, Barbecued Pork and Mint Salad...

I picked up two chokos at the supermarket out of curiosity-- I've eaten it before in Mexican cuisine but cooking with it was the first. This green pear-shaped fruit, a member of the gourd family hails from Central America and Mexico, and is also known as chayote. It is occasionally used in Vietnamese cooking such as beef stir-fry. But where choko stands-out is in salads-- so refreshing and crispy like a mild pear, it absorbs flavours brilliantly! Borrowing a recipe from Lister and Pohl's cookbook Real Vietnamese Cooking, I made their fabulous salad that combines char siu barbecued pork, fresh mint and fish sauce for a super WOW taste sensation! Forget yesterday's Thai papaya salad and give this Vietnamese beauty a try!

Vietnamese Choko, Barbecue Pork and Mint Salad
Makes 6 servings

2 chokos (aka chayotes)
2 - 3 shallots, thinly sliced (use the Asian red variety if you can find it)
1 carrot, cut into long thin strips
1 handful mint, with larger leaves torn smaller
1 long red chilli, seeded and cut into thin strips
2 Tbsp. fried shallots
2 Tbsp. roasted peanut, roughly chopped
200 g char siu Chinese BBQ pork, sliced into thin pieces and torn

Dressing: (customize to your own liking by adding each ingredient a bit at a time)
juice of 2 - 3 limes (about 1/3 cup)
1/4 cup sugar
2 - 3 Tbsp. fish sauce
1 - 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Whisk the sugar and lime juice together until the sugar is completely dissolved. Stir in the fish sauce and garlic. Peel the choko with a vegetable peeler; slice down the centre, remove its seed, and cut into slices then thin strips or use a mandoline.

Side Bar: Even its names are cool- Choko, Chayote... Want to wrangle your kids in trying it--- tell them "Choko is a green bald alien- eyeless and toothless. And you should eat it before it GOBBLES you up!"

It is enjoyable to eat as a snack by itself- like a slice of pear!

TIP: Remove chilli pepper's inner membrane and seeds to decrease its heat. Remember to wash your hands after!

Place the choko strips in a bowl, pouring the dressing over it; toss to combine. Leave to soak for five minutes for the choko to soften.

Just look at those beautiful colours and crispy, crunchy, meaty and chewy textures!

Add the remaining ingredients and gently toss together. Pile in a nice serving bowl or platter.

The Choko Salad was perfect accompanying a meal of DIY fresh shrimp and pork rolls!


Spring and summer times are synonymous to eating light and fresh. Vietnamese shrimp and pork fresh rolls fit this bill and the personalized do-it-yourself wrap-and-roll style is fun for everyone! 

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