How To Use Cheap Sayote That Will Make Delicious Dishes

Tight budget? Use the sayote!

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If you are like the rest of us, you are probably feeling the stress of the price increases and having budget constraints. With fuel and food prices continuing to soar to alarming heights, the need to be a smarter shopper when it comes to food is real. 

That's why learning how to identify what food is affordable and how to use these ingredients in the kitchen is a skill that can save your daily food budget. One of the most affordable vegetables on the market right now is the humble sayote

The sayote, also spelled chayote, is an easy vegetable to add to dishes.
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What is a sayote? 

A sayote is a vegetable in the same family as the cucumber, zucchini, and other such gourds. Sayote, also spelled chayote and also known as the vegetable pear, is often used in sautéed vegetable dishes and has a light crunch and mild sweet flavor.

How do you prepare sayote? 

The outside of the sayote we have locally available has a slightly prickly texture and while this peel is edible, some may not care for those prickly little thorns when eating it. Even if it is edible raw, the peel excretes a sap that feels a little slimy and can be an irritant. That's why peeling it is the simple solution to rid the sayote of both the little thorns and the sap that lies right underneath the peel.  

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To prepare this vegetable, here's what you do:

  • 1 Remove the outside peel thinly. Being careful not of the slimy sap, slice the vegetable in half.
  • 2 Remove the large seed if desired. 
  • 3 Slice into quarters or into the desired serving sizes.
  • 4 Cook as desired or as the recipe instructs. 
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It says in Step 2 that you can remove the seed of the sayote if you want to and you may be confused by that instruction. You shouldn't be because did you know that the sayote seed is actually edible? Like the seeds of the jackfruit or langka, the seeds are nutty and can be left in the vegetable when cooking. 

How to cook sayote 

The sayote is similar to other hardy vegetables when it comes to how to cook it. It is best when simmered in a little water to help tenderize the flesh. Even just a little water or broth added to a hot frying pan, the sayote cooks quickly. Think of cooking the sayote like you would a potato or even a green papaya, and cooking the sayote will be easy. 

A vegetable kakiage or veggie tempura is like an okoy. Just swap some veggies with sayote to keep it budget-friendly.
Photo by Toto Labrador
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How to make sayote recipes 

You may not want to eat just sayote or have tinolang manok at every meal. So, here are ways you can switch the sayote for another vegetable in your dish or simply slide it in without anyone else knowing it's there: 

1 Make sayote the main vegetable in okoy and veggie tempura.

Sayote is a subtle-tasting vegetable which makes it a highly versatile ingredient to use in any number of ways. If you're cooking vegetable tempura, also known as an okoy, add strips of sayote to the veggie mix, too! Better yet, make it the main vegetable in the mix so you don't need to use expensive carrots, kamote, and Baguio beans or have to fuss cleaning the togue

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2 Swap the cabbage for sayote in chop suey.

Simple vegetable dishes do not have to be expensive so if cabbage, carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower are beyond your budget, swap them out with sayote instead! If you're worried that your dish will be less chop suey and more ginisang sayote, you can of course bolster your chop suey mix with other vegetables. But if you remember to keep the bulk of the other veggies to a minimum, you can still have a satisfying chop suey dish without feeling bereft of the essence of the dish. 

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3 Add it into a vegetable mix for roasting. 

If you're lazy to cook in front of the stove, we don't blame you! Turn to other appliances for a way to cook your meals, and you might see the oven or your air fryer in a new light. 

Sayote is easily roasted! The tender flesh is perfect for roasting because it is even easier (and faster!) to roast than a potato. Toss the chunks of sayote and other vegetables that you desire with a little cooking oil, sprinkle some salt, ground pepper, and other herbs and spices you like, and place in the oven or the air fryer for 30 minutes until the tips get charred and the veggies are tender. This is fantastic served on its own or as a side for a fried fish meal. 

You can even stuff the sayote as you would a bell pepper with a flavorful rice mix so it's an all-in-one meal straight from out of the oven. 

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If you want to learn more about the sayote and even other ways to prepare and cook vegetables during these expensive times, here are articles to read through: 

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Thinking about what to cook next? Join our Facebook group, Yummy Pinoy Cooking Club, to get more recipe ideas, share your own dishes, and find out what the rest of the community are making and eating!

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