Choko is something that takes me back to the 1980s, or maybe even a tad earlier. Living in suburban Australia wasn’t complete without having a choko vine growing on the back fence, or if you didn’t, chances are that one of your neighbours did.
I’m sure it’s a very different story in the ‘burbs these days, as many consider the choko a weed and wouldn’t dare grow it.
During the Depression in the early 1930s, the choko was dished up in ways that depended on its preparer’s imagination. In other words, it was used a lot, especially in poorer families – boiled, fried, mashed, in jams, cakes and even sweet pies.
It was the perfect filler, and fooler, as many thought they were eating apple pie, not the fruit from a weed that grew up the sides of the bar shed or thunder box.
This nobbly pear-shaped fruit is part of the gourd, pumpkin and zucchini family, and was brought to our shores from Mexico, where it’s known as chayote. Others may know it as mirliton or one of several other names.
In my younger years it was simply sliced, crumbed and fried until golden. A little salt and it was the perfect accompaniment to whatever meat and veg was on the dinner table or neighbour’s bbq gathering.
I’ve gone down the fried route with the recipe I’m sharing here. Panko crumbs in place of old-fashioned fine bread crumbs, and a rather nice bacon jam to dollop on top of these crunchy, golden little numbers.
Bacon jam is so easy to make yourself. Not that it’s actually jam. Truth be told it’s more of a relish, and the one I’ve been making lately isn’t sickly sweet like a lot of them out there. It’s even perfect with a sharp cheese, on crackers, with grilled pork or slapped onto a good old ham and cheese sandwich.