Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Roasted Sou-sou (or Chayote)

That is roasted sou-sou. Never heard of a sou-sou before? Well, you are not alone. Neither had I.

I walked into my kitchen one day last week to find this thing sitting on my windowsill:

I stopped and looked at it for a moment, and then wondered to myself how (and why) on earth this cactus-looking thing had found its way to my windowsill, especially since I live alone.  When I tried to pick it up, the thorns attacked me, and so I left it alone on my windowsill, nursing my sore finger.  For the next few weeks, I eyed it warily every time I came into the kitchen, the mystery of its appearance hovering over me as I cooked.

Weeks later, my landlady asked me how I had enjoyed the sou-sou.  Sou-sou?  Dumbfounded, I stared back at her and mumbled something about "...cactus....window?"  She laughed at me and explained that it was a sou-sou, or chayote (they go by several different names) and that they are growing on a tree in our backyard. My landlady had placed one in my window for me, assuming I would know what to do with it.  Reaching into her own fridge, she pulled one out, peeled it, and cut me a slice to eat raw.  It tasted like what I imagine a cross between a potato and an apple would taste like: crisp, fresh, and a bit starchy  She told me to try roasting one sometime; that it was delicious roasted.  So that's what I did this weekend at a dinner party I was co-hosting.  We cut the sou-sou into thin slices and stuck them in the oven, where they got nice and crispy on the outside and remained tender on the inside.  They made the perfect appetizer!

Roasted Sou-Sou

2 whole sou-sous, peeled, cut in half, with the pip removed
1 - 2 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Any other seasonings you might want to add - although it's wonderful even just with oil, salt, and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F. 

After the sou-sou has been peeled and the pip removed, cut it into very thin slices.  Place in a large mixing bowl and add the 1 - 2 tbsp. olive oil.  Toss to coat all pieces, and then spread onto a baking sheet lined with foil.  Bake for about 20 - 30 minutes, being sure to shift the pieces around to ensure even browning and crisping.  Remove to a serving plate and serve as an appetizer or a side dish.

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