One afternoon, my son and I were having our tea break in the kitchen. I was busy reading a cookbook.
Son: “Mommy, what are you looking at?”
Me: “I am reading a recipe called “Braised Buddha’s hand gourd with mushroom”. I will cook it tonight for our dinner. Do you like it?”
I pointed out a photo of the gourd to my son.
Son: “What is this?”
Me: “This is Amitābha (Buddha)’s hand and we are going to eat it.”
My son stared at me for a second and smiled cheekly: “Don’t trick me!”
Buddha’s hand gourd/ melon (佛手瓜) – (known as Chayote, Sechium edule)
There are many names given to this plant. One of the common names is Buddha’s hand because it resembles the hands of the Buddha.
“It is originated in the cool mountains of Central America where it was first domesticated by the Aztecs.”
“Although most people are familiar only with the fruit, the root, stem, seeds, and leaves are all edible. The fruit does not need to be peeled and can be eaten raw in salads. It can also be boiled, stuffed, mashed, baked, fried, or pickled. Both the fruit and the seed are rich in amino acids and vitamin C. The tuberous part of the root is starchy and is both eaten by humans and used as cattle fodder.”
The leaves and fruit have diuretic, cardiovascular and anti-inflammatory properties, and a tea made from the leaves has been used in the treatment of arteriosclerosis and hypertension, and to dissolve kidney stones.”
How to select
Select firm, smooth, unwrinkled chayote. Old chayote become very wrinkled and become dry and tough. Chayote will keep refrigerated for many days but it is best to use as quickly as possible.
Other references (Mandarin):
Recipe adapted and modified from Special Quick & Delicious Vegetable Cookbook.
300g Buddha’s hand gourd (peeled, removed core and cut into thick strips)
50g mocked chicken slice (cut into thick strips)
3 dried shitake mushrooms (soaked and cut into thick strips)
50g carrot (cut into thick strips)
2-3 slices of gingers
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp vegetarian oyster sauce
1 tbsp light soya sauce
½ tsp salt
Dash of sesame oil and pepper
1 tsp cornflour (diluted with water) – for thickening
1) Heat up oil, saute ginger until fragrant.
2) Add in mocked chicken and stir-fry until fragrant.
3) Add in mushroom and stir-fry for a while.
4) Add in carrot and Buddha’s hand gourd and stir-fry until well mixed.
5) Add in seasonings and bring to boil. Simmer until Buddha’s hand gourds are soft and well-absorded with the gravy. Adjust seasonings if necessary.
6) Thicken with cornflour solution. Dish up and serve.