Su su xào tôm khô - Choko Stir Fry
Easy - You got this!
I’m often asked how to stir fry vegetables like choko and the answer is usually this Vietnamese stir fry, where choko is combined with dried shrimps in an oyster sauce base.
In Vietnamese, choko is called su su, but around the world it’s also referred to as chayote. Choko can be widely found in Australia and even grow in the wild. In certain areas of Australia, it’s considered a weed but in any Vietnamese household it is a common house vegetable. It’s generally affordable all year round and a great vegetable alternative for those who are partial to cooking with kohlrabi, zucchini or broccoli.
Growing up, choko was arguably one of my favourite vegetables and Mum often added it to soups, braises and stir fries. One of my favourite Vietnamese soups is still her choko and pork bone soup. When simmered on a low heat in a delicious pork bone broth, the choko becomes quite tender and filled with its own natural sweetness. Choko has similar characteristics when braised. However when stir fried, it can have a nice bite to it; a texture synonymous to any Asian stir fry.
The key to achieving the perfect stir fried choko is cutting it up into thin batons. This allows the choko to cook through but still maintain a firm texture throughout the stir frying process. Secondly, it is a common mistake in the household kitchen to throw away choko seeds. Choko seeds, when young are edible. You can tell when choko seeds are young as they’re not fibrous and pale in colour. If you find yourself with a young choko, don’t discard its seeds. Simply slice it up and put it in the stir fry.
Choko has a naturally firm texture so refrain from stir frying it for too long as it will absorb too much moisture. Alternatively, if you prefer your vegetables on the softer side, cook it for a little longer which will allow them to soften and fill with even more umami from the dried shrimp and anchovy salt.
If broccoli and beef stir fry is regularly featured in your rotation, give this choko stir fry a go, to experience one of Vietnam’s most popular vegetables stir fried to perfection and loaded with natural flavour. Serve with a bowl of steam rice and a savoury dish such as my ca kho, thit kho or Vietnamese chicken wings to complete your Vietnamese home-cooked meal on any given night.
15g dried shrimp
150ml hot water
3 tablespoons oil
2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
2 chokos, peeled, de-seeded and cut into thin strips
½ teaspoon anchovy salt or sea salt
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon water
½ tablespoon potato/corn starch
½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
How to prepare dried shrimp:
1. In a small bowl, rehydrate dried shrimp with hot water for 20 minutes.
2. Remove dried shrimp but reserve the water.
3. In a mortar and pestle, or small food processor, pound dried shrimp until fluffy and tender.
Duncan’s tip: To save time, rehydrate with cold water the night before and place in fridge.
How to cook choko:
1. In a large fry pan or wok on high heat, add oil and garlic and cook until fragrant or lightly golden.
2. Add choko, anchovy salt, oyster sauce, sea salt and sugar, and stir fry for 2-3 minutes or until choko is tender but remains firm.
Duncan’s tip: Use my Asian Vegetable Peeler to peel the choko with ease. If the choko is young and fresh, the seed will appear pale white. These are edible and do not require de-seeding.
3. Add dried shrimp and reserve dried shrimp water, then bring to the boil.
4. In a small bowl, mix 1 tablespoon water with ½ tablespoon potato or corn starch and stir well until combined. Drizzle evenly into stir fry and cook for a further minute on high heat until sauce thickens.
NOTE: If there is no moisture at the end of the stir, omit this step.
Duncan’s tip: Potato or corn starch are both gluten free and great sauce thickeners. They are activated by heat, so make sure it gets to the boil to achieve the desired consistency.
5. Remove from heat and season with cracked black pepper, and serve on freshly steamed rice.