The humble choko is coming to the end of its season. Some of you will be high-fiving and singing hallelujah, but some of you have a secret penchant for the pear-shaped green gourd, usually found growing on the fence of every nana’s backyard.
A few weeks ago, Sonja Drexler — my bestie — came over to our place to help prepare some recipes and hang out for the day. To our surprise, we discovered she loves chokos, when she seriously chowed down on some homemade choko pickle. A week or so later, she even called me to see if I’d buy her some chokos from one of the farm-gate stalls across Tamborine Mountain, where they’ve been featuring prominently for months.
On the day of our cooking date, I taught Sonja how to joint a chicken and poach the breasts. We then created this poached chicken, pickled choko, ginger and carrot salad.
If I made this again, I would julienne the choko with the carrot, instead of using the cubes of pickled choko, which I had previously made. Salting the choko removes some of the liquid. You can omit this step if you like. By all means, make it your way.
Poached chicken with pickled choko, ginger & carrot salad
gluten-free | dairy-free | wheat-free
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts or 4 thighs
½ cup white wine
1 fresh bay leaf
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 strips of skin peeled from a lemon, avoid the pith
Place the chicken breasts in a single layer in a heavy-based sauté pan, add the remaining ingredients and cover the chicken with cold water. Place the pan on a medium heat and bring to the boil. When the water has boiled, drop the temperature to simmer and cover the pan with a lid. Cook for 10 minutes. Remove the pan and leave the lid slightly ajar for the steam to escape for another 10 minutes. Remove the chicken and cool. Refrigerate until required. The poached chicken will keep wrapped or covered in fridge for up to 4 days.
Quick pickled choko & carrot
800 g choko, peeled and cut into 2 cm cubes or julienned
2 teaspoons salt
400 g carrot, peeled and julienned
¾ cup white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon golden caster sugar
1 tablespoon salt
Place the choko cubes in a colander and sprinkle with salt, and toss until well covered. Place the colander over a bowl to collect the juice. Leave for ½ hour or longer if you have the time. Dry the chokos between sheets of paper towel. Toss the carrot and choko together in a large bowl. Heat the vinegar, sugar and salt in a saucepan to boiling. Fill a preserving jar with the vegetables and pour over the pickling liquid. Make sure all the vegetables are covered and secure the lid. Place aside to cool, and then refrigerate. Quick pickles will keep in the fridge for 2–3 weeks.
Juice of 1 lime
10 ml toasted sesame oil
20 ml mirin
10 ml fish sauce
Place all the ingredients in a jar and shake like mad. Refrigerate until required.
Pickled ginger & extra bits
1 tablespoon pickled ginger, finely sliced (see recipe here)
Handful of coriander leaves
1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds
To make the salad, add a couple of handfuls of pickled vegetables to a bowl. Shred the chicken breasts and add. Add the dressing, ginger and some coriander leaves. Place on a serving platter and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.