At the Vietnamese dinner table, there is always rice, fish sauce, an entree and canh (“soup”). The canh finishes off the meal, and when my dad cooked, I always made sure it was finished. The broth of the canh is usually made of pork or chicken and contains a vegetable or two, sprinkled with cilantro and then seasoned with black pepper and fish sauce. I usually change the soup up with different vegetables including mushrooms (which makes the broth pretty dark), leafy greens or opo squash. The first year I started cooking, it wouldn’t be uncommon to hear The Boy ask, “What am I eating?” Now, I think he’s pretty familiar with all the vegetables I bring home now, which brings me to chayote.
I have no idea if chayote is a common ingredient in the Vietnamese kitchen, but I know that it was present in my parents’ kitchen many times over. To me, there’s nothing better in canh than this water-dense vegetable. If it had a sweet flavor, I’m sure it would be a fruit because it crunches like an apple and nearly has the same texture. If you’re a vegetable fan, give chayote a try but don’t think of it as an apple. Otherwise, you might freak yourself out like The Boy tends to do when he eats this soup.
The Boy’s Reaction: “Yum.” [I’m not too convinced.]
5 cups of water
2 pieces of chicken (a drumstick and a wing will work)
2 chayotes, quartered and then sliced (make them as thick as two stacked Ritz crackers)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fish sauce (adjust according to taste)
dash of pepper
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Bring water to a boil in saucepan. Add chicken. Bring heat down to medium temperature. Keep here for about 20 minutes. Then add chayote. Cook until the chayote is soft. Add salt, pepper and fish sauce. Top with cilantro.
Serve with rice.
This isn’t not a mind blowing dish, but it is nice for a lighter meal or a cooler night.