When is a potato not a potato?

When it’s a choo choo… noooo that’s not a Portuguese sneeze!

Feeling rather adventurous during a recent shopping foray to the local farmers’ market, I stepped outside my cautious ‘foodie’ comfort zone and decided to experiment with some, shall we say…  some of the more weird and wonderful vegetable offerings they had on sale.  As I looked beyond the usual staple veg such as cabbage, onions and potatoes an ugly misshapen green shrek-like pear piqued my curiosity.

(No, my curiosity and adventurous spirit still does not extend to sampling the “unmentionables”!)

On closer inspection of  shrek-pear and still none the wiser the stallholder, no doubt sensing my curiosity and/or ignorance, proceeded to explain  it was called a “cho choo” and a vegetable similar to a potato.

I thought my hearing deceived me: ” choo choo?”  I repeated.

“Sim.” She even said train in English, and then accentuated the word “Choo Choo”, by way of verbal demonstration to make sure I’d understood before she proceeded to instruct me on how to cook them. Interesting, because I would have put shrek in the fruit bowl waiting for it to ripen. ‘It’ certainly looked more fruit like rather than vegetable to me.

I’m sure my body-language still oozed caution so she generously gave me one to try.

Chu Chu or Chayote

Once home I tried to Google the name without success. In for a penny in for a pound, as they say, so that night I cut the beast in half and roasted it in the oven complete with skin; it tasted delicious. Mr. Piglet, however, was having none of it and with jaws clamped firmly shut he flatly refused to taste even the tiniest morsel. Men!

Folks, if you’ve never tried a Chochoo or whatever it’s called in your country, trust me they are delicious.

My next visit to a supermarket revealed the true name “chuchu’ which, after consulting Mr Google, is its Brazilian name and chuchu led me to Wikipedia which offered several names including Chayote.

Next week I will return to the market to buy some “ChuChu” but in the meantime if anyone has some recipe suggestions, please share them below.


41 thoughts on “When is a potato not a potato?

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  1. Hi..I bought a couple on the market in Portugal yesterday..the lady said peel and slice and layer up on a dish with garlic, a bit of salt and cheese and put in the oven. Or in soups instead of potatoes😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello from Brazil (born & raised in Belo Horizonte, now living in Brasilia),

    Chuchu is part of my normal diet, and I actually thought it was very funny to read about it from your perspective. I don’t know why, but I never thought chuchu could be strange or uncommon to anyone else. It just never occured to me.

    Well, some tips about chuchu: if you prepare it sliced in cubes, it is advisable to cut it in half first – like you did in the picture. Then rub the two halves against each other, and you’ll notice a white foam coming out of it. Then simply wash it out and slice it without any “sticky” or “gluey” feeling.

    Also, if you decide to slice it in cubes, you can (and should!) use it as the base for vegetable soup. Blend it to make creams… the possibilities are infinite, although honestly I never saw fried chuchu as french fries. Anyhow, in my humble opinion they are so tasty they don’t need to be fried.

    One last tip before goodbye: use chuchu cubes when you prepare chicken dishes. They are a prime garment and will certainly give your food a “tropical” feel.


    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great find! I always have it in my beef soups. I make it with cubed beef or chunks of beef that are bone-in, also there is ox tail (more fatty) if you really want to be extra adventurous.
    My recipe is as follows: Brown meat in oil, with cilantro, diced onion and diced bell pepper, salt, pepper, to taste, (I cheat and use beef cubes for extra flavor). Once browned, add warm water to the meat. You can also drop in the veggies now, keep extra warm water around because once you add the veggies you may need it, so use a big pot. The veggies that cook longer first and then the ones that need less cooking last: yucca (skin off), peeled carrots, corn on husk, zucchini (skin on) in chunks, chayote (skin on) in chunks, cabbage leaves or cabbage in quarters, are very last, because they just need a quick cook to soften them a bit, also be careful with the zucchini and chayote or they’ll start to fall apart in the soup, I personally I don’t like the skin on the chayote, but I keep it on to cook. Serve with hot rice on the side. Lime wedges and hot sauce to top. Chayote or choo choo is softer and usually easier to cook than potato, and I can see why people put it in salads, it’s got a sweeter, more crisp and fresh flavor, with no skin 🙂 I will have to try it on other things, gald for everyones suggestions!


  4. My mother loved those! We didn’t call them chuchus or chayotes (I believe that’s Spanish); I’ll have to ask my sister. She would cut them in half lengthwise and boil them. I prefer to roast them, cut side up, in the oven. I dab a little olive oil on them before cooking. It’s funny, but here in the California Central Valley, not many people eat them, so they wind up in the bargain bin at my town grocery store. As is said in Portuguese, “Mais fica!” (More for me).


  5. Hi Pip, not heard from you for a while. I saw them in Lagos market a few weeks ago and had to buy some. I love trying new things. They were spelt xu-xu and was told they were pronounced somewhere between choo-choo and shoo-shoo. I found a few recipes on line. I found they did not have a great deal of flavour on their own and needed spicing up. I peeled, sliced and baked in the oven with garlic and onions. Another recipe was a stir fry with chilli.


  6. In Australia we call them Choko http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Choko. I’ve baked them, and my mother used to mash with a little cream and some pepper. We had a vine once and it took over the back yard – obviously going to be the last thing remaining on earth along with the cockroaches. Whenever I peeled one and got the juice on my hands I would develop a rash that would itch – end of the vine!


  7. Darling girl ~ anyone from Australia would give you a big warm hug and smile! These are chokoes, they grow absolutely rampant here and in season are almost impossible to ‘give away’. OK: click on our SBS.com.au/food [one of the most brilliant TV stations in the world and our food authority] and you’ll find at least three: Indonesian and Vietnamese stirfries and a ‘modern’ Australian pickle. ‘Taste.com.au’ [terrific!!] also has some recipes for it!! Glad you like it: I must admit I find it a wee bit ‘watery’, but perhaps those in Portugal are of a different type 🙂 !


      1. Laughing at how all the Aussies came to say hello !!! Honestly they are so prolific here I don’t even remember the last time I saw any in the shops 🙂 ! Oh, the gado-gado idea up the page would be good also, except perhaps not in winter 😉 !


  8. Here in Australia we call them Chokos, they grow well and produce large amounts of fruit. I don’t really care for them but lots of people do, they say that they will take up the flavour of the other ingredients when added to stews etc. but sorry I can’t offer any recipes.


  9. Here in Australia they are called Choko. They are really easy to grow over a fence – in fact, they grow like mad! You can use them in almost anything and they take on the flavour of whatever you are cooking them with, so they can be used in both savoury or sweet meals. Enjoy!


  10. Here in Brazil, or at least in my part, it is pronounced more like Shoo Shoo. I have used it in curries alongside potatoes. My husband thought I was trying to poison him because it had a greenish hue to it.
    I have seen it used in a salad (cooked) on the internet. My neighbor says she uses it in a stew. The price of veg here can be high but that one always seems good value.
    Hope you enjoyed it.


  11. hello,

    greetings from germany 🙂

    this is one of favourite vegetables in indonesian, called labu siam and it has a sweet taste. chayote used in gado-gado, an indonesian salad of boiled vegetables served with peanut sauce.



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