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Remember the humble Choko?

When I was a kid many Australian people had the humble Choko growing on their fence. You could use it as an added vegetable when you presented a Mutton Roast (these days called a Lamb Roast – let’s face it most Legs of Lamb we purchase are a little beyond lamb size – most of them are mutton huge).

Chokos grow on a climbing plant and look a bit like a pear. Some varieties have spines, while others are spineless. Colours range from green to ivory white. Chokos have a very mild flavour, often compared to marrow, so they are usually cooked with other stronger tasting foods. The words in this paragraph have been pinched from Google search.

Chokos are an all time favourite vegetable in Australia (well they were about fifty years ago). Chokos , or as they are sometimes known as chayote or alligator pear are a vine crop found in warm to subtropical areas. … they are also one of the most pickled vegetables in Australia. Chokos are available throughout the year especially in tropical Australia (well they were about fifty years ago).

Lightly boiled, smothered with salt, garlic, pepper and butter.

I am writing all of this to say that we should resurge the humble Choko. It fell out of favour because it was seen as the food of poor people. It fell out of favour because certain National Canners substituted, and were caught out as substituting, Choko as a replacement for apple or pear mush – which it did if you added just a little sugar.

But forget the history. I am a champion for the Choko.

I would like to see it resurge.

Did your grandmother/grandfather leave you any Choko recipes? If they did send them to me.

I’m Choko deprived!

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21 comments

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  1. Kerri

    I have been seeing the same hairdresser for longer than my hubby and his salon is in a strip mall with parking at the rear.
    Every 6 weeks when going for a trim I passed a Choko vine in a small awkward triangle of dirt contained by brickwork.
    I have never eaten choko. To my knowledge, but somehow knew what it was?
    The vine would grow and go crazy and then be chopped back by one of the local shop owners.
    I often wondered what you use them for?
    For the last 5 or so years the vine has gone.
    Shame!

  2. Cheryl Tonkin

    And please pass on the chili recipes.

  3. wam

    wow keith you will be telling us you ate salad as a kid?
    my family peas potatoes carrots occasionally cabbage rarely silver beet and never salad. I subscribe to the scots’ version eat the leftover chips for brunch as a salad.
    So healthy, tasty and varied has never been in our family till we met asians and now fruit, vegetables and chilli s accompany the roasts with peas carrots potatoes and cauliflower cheese curry and rice complete the variety.
    I am sure that had choko and salad been in my diet then and now, i would be a far better person.

  4. Keith Davis

    Wam … salad … I do have the courage to consume it on the odd occasion (pretty sure I have an old photo where someone once caught me in the rare act of munching away on it like a rabbit) but the large juicy t-bone tends to take up most of the plate!

    But I must say that Choko is the king/queen of backyard food production … the vine takes over your fence and anything else it can reach (including your leg if you stand still near it for too long) and no matter how much you ignore it it just keeps pumping out those lovely little green spiky bliss bombs.

  5. Geoff Andrews

    Home grown chokos were definitely on the menu at our house. I think they were popular/necessary during the war years.
    They’re quite juicy but bland. My mother and Grandmother used to augment the apples in apple pie to save money.
    (I notice my spellcheck does not recognise the word “choko”! Bloody millennial!

  6. Vikingduk

    Keith, got the perfect anti covid recipe known to man or beast —

    Marinate chokos in a mixture of 4 parts disinfectant, two parts chlorine and a sprinkle of draino. Boil the absolute crap out of these little devils in metho. Garnish with a few sprigs of deadly nightshade. Eat. Absolutely guaranteed to cure all your worldly problems. Recipe passed on by third cousin twice removed, who was a brilliant stable genius, having worked at various prestigious universities as a cleaner, the first time he was removed involved various unspeakable practices with the sheep in the back paddock, ewegenics he reckoned, valid science, says he, no we sez, bugger off. The second time, well, strike me pink and call me mable, the rotten toad was caught in a threesome with an aardvark and a three toed sloth. Interracial multiculturalism he sez, bullshit we say, begone, vanish, just pissoff.

    So, there you have it, a brilliant recipe brought to you by, some say, a psychotic, very dangerous narcissist, intent on ego tripping, though I was of the opinion that good quality LSD offered a far better tripping experience. Been in contact with lnp to stage a fundraiser featuring this glorious recipe, with hopes it will become a staple, go to, in parliament house eateries. So, any spare chokos greatly appreciated.

    World domination awaits, as well as a checkup from the neckup.

  7. Pilot

    Mmmmmm…. Choko… Yeah, love them. White cheesy sauce or salted didn’t matter. We had spikies as a kid, now we have smooth. Problem is though, we have to sneak into next door’s yard with barking dogs to harvest our crops on the far side fence, 🤣🤣🤣🤣. Very subtle, will take on any flavour. In Leeton (as a kid), the cold temps & frost would kill off the vine, but come Spring, away it went. We moved to the coast (right on the water) and the vine had to be basically trimmed to the ground, it never stopped growing but wouldn’t fruit until Spring.
    If boiled real butter and mashed garlic thrown in & tossed…. Bewdifulllllll, 🤣.
    We’d have salads all the time when I was a kid, subject to availability, but never ever on a Sunday, “roast legga” for lunch and dinner varied, but there were never any leftovers from lunch, lol

  8. Michael Taylor

    I have a confession: it appears I’m the only person who doesn’t know what a choko is. ☹️

    I don’t remember seeing them on the farm on Kangaroo Island. I we had them, we surely would have eaten them. On the farm we ate anything we could get our hands on.

  9. Pilot

    Michael!!!!
    GEEZZZZZZ……
    You have to get out more mate, 🤣.
    We have a benchtop covered in ’em atm, and the neighbours have no idea 🤣

    Travelled all over the World and never eaten chokos, stone the bloody crows!! 🤣🤣🤣🤣
    Check with your neighbours unless they’re liberal voters. There’s gotta be a vine close to your place, surely.
    p.S. If you have trouble with the pronunciation, it is ch-oh-k-oh 🤣🤣🤣🤣

  10. Mark Buchanan

    I need someone who has thousands to send me one?

  11. Michael Taylor

    Just don’t remember seeing them on the island, Pilot.

    We had too many other wonderful delights to feast on: ox tail soup, boiled tongue, possum, wallaby, tripe, white pudding, black pudding, heart and kidney stew, goose, rock cod.

    But we did have roast lamb every day (during shearing season), prime steak, crayfish on weekends.

  12. Hotspringer

    Modern leg of lamb may be large, but certainly lacks the flavour of mutton, or just about any flavour at all. Rather like the choko, which must have flavour added. By the way, am I the only one who enjoys them raw, with dressing, as salad?

  13. Michael Taylor

    PS: I would get out more but we’re self-isolating. 😁

  14. Michael Taylor

    And I have eaten haggis. 😀🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

  15. Josiane Saminaden

    INGREDIENTS:
    1 kg of chokos
    1 C. flour
    1 C. butter
    ½ glass of semi-skimmed milk
    4 crushed garlic cloves
    4 branches of thyme
    1 C. vegetable oil
    70 g grated cheese
    2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
    1 knob of butter for the mold
    Salt pepper
    DIRECTIONS:
    STEP 1
    Preheat the oven to 18 ° C (thermostat 6).
    2ND STEP
    Wash and peel the choko Cut them into slices, then dice, after removing the heart.

    STEP 3
    Boil a large pot of salt water, with the thyme branches washed beforehand, the tablespoon of vegetable oil and a clove of garlic peeled and crushed. Cook the pieces of darlings there. Drain and mash with a fork or a potato masher.
    STEP 4
    Prepare a bechamel sauce. In a saucepan, melt the butter. Add the spoon of flour and mix with a wooden spoon. Add the last 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed. Pour the milk little by little, while continuing to stir. The béchamel will thicken little by little. Add salt and pepper.
    STEP 5
    Butter a gratin dish. Place the pieces of choko over there. Cover with bechamel sauce. Cover gratin of scrunchies cooked with grated cheese and sprinkle with breadcrumbs.
    STEP 6
    Bake for 30 minutes. When the gratin choko is cooked , serve immediately.

  16. TuffGuy

    Those things are TRULY disgusting, even worse than cucumber. Yes I grew up with them growing on the fence and like cucumber, tripes and corned beef absolutely HATE them.

  17. pierre wilkinson

    chokos were the basic ingredient in tinned pears and apples, they take on whatever flavour you add to them

  18. Anne Byam

    Michael – You sure took me back in time – and happily.

    All those goodies – tripe ( a staple in my childhood ) black pud ( have never had a white one ) ox tail or kangaroo tail soup [ yum ] and the boiled tongue that Mum used to do – leave it in it’s own juices, and put in a bowl with a saucer on top – lift the kitchen table and put the bowl underneath one of the legs to ‘set’. And boy did it set. There was much shrieking “not to go ANYWHERE NEAR that table” – and it was all we could do not to tip the whole lot over and start into the most delicious of meats. I still eat kangaroo, black pud, and put kidney into beef stew – eat lamb and chicken livers as well. I haven’t found any tripe in butchers for ages. Probably have to order it especially and it would cost the earth ?? All good stuff though.

    @hotspringer. I agree about the lamb/mutton thing – but if the meat is very red it is most certainly mutton and should be cooked very slowly with basting … it then retains that remarkable and beautifully unusual flavour. Some of the pinker and large ‘lamb’ is most likely two-tooth which one can get away with by roasting almost as normal, but I agree, the meat sold as lamb these days can lack some flavour.

    @ Keith ~~ Thanks for bringing up the subject of Chokos which I happen to enjoy – with salt and butter. But only got to know about those when I was older. There didn’t seem to be any vines of chokos climbing on fences when I was a kid.

  19. Jen

    There was a time when I was given some very good prawns and, separately, some chokoes. By chance, I had just bought a jar of XO sauce, which I was desperate to try out. Best stir fry ever!
    Spices, oil and garlic are the answer. And fast cooking. Charred, not soggy

  20. Sharon Morrissey

    We have just been introduced to these beauty’s by a great friend……where have you been all our lives? I am totally addicted and we have been using them in pretty much everything that we cook.
    I agree with you Michael, bring them back. So easy to grow and they produce so much!
    I made this cake for my choko supplier and she wouldn’t share it with anyone else!
    First you cook chokos in a sugar syrup with a chunk of ginger added. Simmer until tender then leave overnight to develop flavour. Then make the cake

    Gluten-free Choko Almond Upside-down Cake.
    2 eggs, separated
    3/4 cup caster sugar
    6 tbsp melted butter
    1 1/2 cups almond meal
    cooked choko
    2 tbsp brown sugar or golden syrup
    1. Preheat oven to 200°C
    2. To make cake batter, whip egg whites until stiff. Beat in sugar, then add butter, egg yolks and almonds. Stir gently to combine.
    3. Place a layer of cooked choko in a well-buttered cake tin. Sprinkle with brown sugar or drizzle with golden syrup. Spoon cake batter over choko.
    4. Bake for 30-40 minutes,or until firm to touch. Turn out to great applause.

  21. Louise

    Choko……have given about 20 kgs to local store in last three weeks. Woolworths were selling for $8.00kg…corner store $3.50kg. Gave kgs to a lady and she gave us back Choko pickles. Recipes are endless. Roast them with other vegetables. Stir fry them. Choko chips…. sliced coat in egg and panko breadcrumbs roast in oven and dip them in sour cream/mayonaise/chives dipping sauce. Cook with carrot, cauliflower and broccoli in cheese sauce…bake in a creamy bacon sauce on there own. I feed my choko vine coffee grounds all thru the drought…now supply is plentiful……great versatile vegetable.

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