Edible shoots and leaves of Chayote (Sechium Edule). Codename: Vegetable 007 aka Dragon's Beard aka Dragon's Whiskers.
Blunder!!! Sometimes, I don't know why there's no proper labeling of produce at supermarkets. Instead of printing the labels as 'Japanese Vegetables' or 'Vegetables 007', why not their correct name? I'm sure there are item descriptions in the invoices... Anyway, with a hunch I asked again, "Is this vegetable called Dragon's Beard ?" With her confused look, " I think so." Alright, to avoid more confusions, I thanked her and grabbed 2 packs of my 'vegetable 007'. I pitied her, really. How could a company being so ignorant of informing their staff their products? Furthermore, this vegetable is not 'Japanese Vegetables' but originates from South America! At least get the name right.
Close up of Chayote Leaves: Tight tendrils and spear-like leaves.
All that aside... this vegetable I'm so obsessed about is none other than edible leaves of Chayote (Cha-yo-tay). Chayote is known as Buddha's Hand Gourd' and the leaves are called 'Dragon's Beard or Whiskers' by Mandarin speakers. It sounds so fancy, exotic but with all the tendrils and spear-like leaves (after comparing pictures of Dragons of all sorts) it doesn't look any resemblance to any parts of dragon whewww!!! I like the look of the Chayote fruit though. Sometimes, it looks like boxing glove, a punched mouth of a puppet or a mouth without a denture...LOL! There are many ways of cooking the Chayote and its leaves.
Normally, I would stir-fry the fruit/gourd with dried shrimps, eggs and transparent noodles (cellophane noodles/ glass noodles/ mung bean threads)... just like hairy gourd (Fuzzy gourd/Mo Kwa). It's delicious in soups and desserts as well. As for the leaves, I preferred to stir-fry it with pounded chilli paste or sambal belacan with dried shrimps or fresh prawns. Sometimes, I would add fresh coconut milk to the chilli mix like Masak Lemak... :-D But today, I have to skip that idea because my guest is enemy to chillies! So, I just stir-fry the leaves with garlic, fresh prawns and some prawn stock which I made from prawn heads and shells I reserved from previous recipe.
Stir-fry Chayote Leaves with Prawns in Prawn Stock
2 packs of Chayote Leaves (about 300 g)
3 cloves garlic - minced
1/2 pc Carrot- slice thinly
100 g Fresh Prawns - peeled and deveined
300 ml Prawn Stock (you can substitute with chicken stock)
Shaoxing Cooking Wine
Some Kuzu starch/ Cornstarch mixed with a some water
1. Wash and trim Chayote Leaves an discard hard stems. Trim the tendrils shorter if it's too long. We don't want to get choke here...:-D.
2. In a hot wok/pan, heat some oil and fry the garlic until fragrant.
3. Add in the prawns. Stir a bit until they turn slightly pink and cook evenly.
4. Add in the Chayote leaves.
5. Pour in the stock and stir evenly.
6. Cook until the vegetables are tender to your liking.
7. Add few dash of Shaoxing Wine.
8. Just before serving, pour in the starch mixture. Give a good stir until the gravy/sauce thickens to your preferred consistency.
9. Dish out and serve hot with rice. You may sprinkle some shallot crisps if you like.
Note: You can omit the starch mixture if you don't like thick gravy. It tastes just as great in plain. I preferred to use kuzu as thickener than cornstarch because when the dish is cold, the gravy doesn't turned watery. Also, it has no perceptible taste compared to Cornstarch.