Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Chayote and Fresh Chinese Yam Soup

Do you know what a Chayote is?

Chayote, also known as 合掌瓜.
Translated, it means "Two palms clasp together".
Don't you think they do look like one?

I have seen them at the Asian Grocery Store, but I never know how they are to be cooked, until I chanced upon the recipe for Chayote and Fresh Chinese Yam Soup from The Chinese Soup Lady.

According to her post on Chayote, this fruit is rich in Vitamins A and C, as well as amino acids. Since it is rich in Vitamin C, maybe that's one reason why it is used commonly in soups that relieve cough and cold.

That's how they look like on the inside. I prefer to remove the skin of the fruit, just so to remove any pesticides that may stay on after thorough cleaning.

Fresh Chinese Yam is used commonly in herbal soup. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after cutting it, as the inside of the Chinese Yam is very slimy.

Since the boys were having a slight cough, and I could get both Chayote and Fresh Chinese Yam (Huai Shan) from the Asian Grocery Store, I decided to give this soup a try, hoping that the soup would help in soothing their cough ... and it did!

1-1.5 pounds Pork Meat/Ribs/Bones
3 Chayotes
50cm length Fresh Chinese Yam
1.2-1.5 litres Water

Salt to taste, if necessary.

  • Wash and clean the pork meat/ribs/bones.
  • Season with salt and leave overnight to marinade. The salt helps to remove the pork smell when cooking the soup!
  • On the day that you are going to cook the soup, take the pork out from the fridge, and blanch the pork pieces in boiling water.
  • Remove and rinse in cold water.
  • Fill a soup pot with 1.2 - 1.5 litres of water.
  • Wash the chayotes and fresh chinese yam.
  • Remove skin from chayotes and fresh chinese yam.
  • Cut the chayotes into cubes, and slice the fresh chinese yam into thick slices.
  • Add the pork, chayotes and fresh chinese yam into the soup pot.
  • Bring the water to a boil.
  • Lower heat and simmer for two hours.
  • Add salt to taste and serve the soup warm.

I like that this soup uses only three simple ingredients. The first time I cooked this soup, I didn not season the pork with salt prior to cooking. Hence, while I enjoyed drinking the soup, I did not enjoy the smell of the pork when the soup was simmering on the kitchen stove. As the chayotes are not really sweet, the soup is not as sweet as when I use herbs (like red dates). I added some salt to the soup. I filtered the soup using a sieve, since the boys liked their soup "clear". It was a good move, as Darling son KW liked the soup so much, he asked for a second bowl.

Subsequently, I seasoned the pork with a reasonable amount of salt and left it to marinade overnight. To my surprise, the smell of the pork was reduced tremendously while the soup was simmering on the stove! There was no need for me to add more salt to the soup when it was done cooking.

When fresh HuaiShan was not available at home, I cooked this soup using 25 slices of dried HuaiShan. The soup tasted just as when fresh Chinese Yam was used. So when you don't have the time to go to the Asian Grocery Store, dried HuaiShan works just as fine!

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