For my first culinary experiment with Chayote, I decided to do the sort of dish that would work well with Bitter Melon as the two ingredients are quite similar in texture, if not in taste. I have used the Bitter Melon in different dishes with both shrimp and salted black beans and I thought that combining the two together with chayote would turn out very nicely indeed…
- ½ lb. small Shrimp (peeled and deveined)
- 1 medium Chayote, cut into small ¼ inch slices
- ½ small Red Bell Pepper, sliced into strips
- 3 slices Ginger, shredded
- 3 tbsp. Salted Black Beans
- 2 tbsp. Sugar
- ¼ cup Rice Wine or dry Sherry
- ¼ cup Chicken Stock
- 1 heaped tsp. Cornstarch, mixed to a slurry with 3 tbsp. Water
- 1 tsp. Sesame Oil
- Vegetable Oil (not shown)
First, mix the cornstarch slurry with the chicken stock and set aside. Next, put the black beans and sugar in a small bowl and mash with the back of a fork so that the beans are partially broken up and crushed, but not quite to the point of being a paste. Mix in the rice wine, or sherry, and set this aside for the time being.
Heat your wok to high and add two or three tablespoons of vegetable oil along with the sesame oil. As soon as the oils start to ripple and are just at the point of smoking, throw in the shrimp and stir-fry quickly until they are pink. Remove to a bowl, allowing as much oil as possible to drain back into the wok and add enough more oil to make a total volume of three tablespoons.
When the oil is rippling again, add the chayote slices and sauté until the surfaces are just beginning to brown but the centers still remain crisp and firm. Remove the slices to the same bowl as the shrimp, again allowing as much oil a possible to stay in the wok.
If necessary, again add enough oil to maintain three tablespoons in the wok and then add the ginger shreds. As soon as they release their aroma, add the red bell pepper and sauté until just beginning to soften. Now add the black bean mixture and let it come to a bubbling boil.
Once the black bean sauce mixture has reduced and thickened slightly, add back the shrimp and chayote. Stir-fry until heated through once again and then pour in the stock and cornstarch. Continue to stir until the sauce thickens and coats all the ingredients and then plate for service.
My wife and I both enjoyed this well enough. The flavor was pleasant but I thought it could really use just a little bit more ‘bite’. Next time, I think I might use Chili Black Bean Sauce instead of just plain salted black beans and some larger shrimp might be a bit of an improvement. The only real negative criticism I had was that the skin of the chayote was just a little fibrous on some of the pieces, which is not something I found when I did a taste test of the raw fruit. Still, that wasn’t a real problem and, on the whole, I think this was pretty successful experiment.