Deep-Fried Chayote Fingers

In Burma, this fried treat is made most often with bottle gourd, but chayote is more available in North America, so that’s what I use. Chayote is a pear-shaped gourd that originated in central America. Substitute zucchini if you wish.

These are easy to make and a real crowd-pleaser, crispy and tender at once, with a hint of ginger. Be sure to get your condiment sauces ready before you start cooking, because like any deep-fried snack, these are best eaten hot.

Serve as a snack or appetizer or to accompany mohinga.

Ingredients

  • About ½ pound chayote (1 medium), bottle gourd, or zucchini

Batter

  • ½ cup rice flour
  • teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Scant ½ cup lukewarm water
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • Peanut oil for deep-frying

Method

If using chayote or gourd, peel it lengthwise, cut into quarters, and scoop out the seed. Thinly slice lengthwise. If using zucchini, cut into 2- to 3-inch lengths and slice into matchsticks. Set aside on a plate.

Combine the rice flour, turmeric, and salt in a bowl. Add the water and whisk to blend to a smooth batter. Add the ginger and stir. Set aside for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, set out tongs, a spider, or a slotted spoon by the stove. Put out several more plates to receive the cooked vegetables.

Heat 2 inches of the oil in a deep fryer or a stable wok over medium to medium-high heat. Test the temperature by dropping a small spoonful of batter into the oil: it should sink and then rise, without burning.

Stir the batter. Pick up a clump of 2 or 3 slices of chayote; drag them through the batter to coat and then slide into the oil. Once the batter starts cooking, it will hold the slices together in a bundle. Repeat with 3 or 4 more bundles, without crowding. Cook for 7 or 8 minutes, until golden all over, using tongs to move the bundles around so they cook evenly. When they’re done, lift them out of the oil, and transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining vegetable slices and batter.

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