I recently crossed paths with the chayote for the first time in my local Mexican market. Instant intrigue. ‘What is this cactus fruit?’ I thought, ‘And why does the other one look like a butt crack?” It was an impulse buy.
I have to admit, I was too intimidated to touch them for the next few days – in no small part because handling the spiky one really hurt. Eventually, I asked my friend, Humberto (one of the most talented cooks I know), what to do with them. He suggested boiling them, peeling them, and sprinkling them with salt.
I ended up grilling them (sorry, man) and they turned out really good. They taste a lot like zucchini – fresh, simple squash – but with a little more moisture. I seasoned it with some salt, pepper, and lime and served it with halibut. Good stuff.
Chayotes aren’t the most flavorful veggies out there, but they’re a really nice vehicle for other elements to shine. Plus, the spikes add an element that the squash family severely lacks – danger. They alone make it an awesome tool for adding life to dishes (or to garnish a sick cocktail). We’ll meet again, chayote. We’ll meet again.