Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Merliton for SueBee
The picture below is something you might have seen before. These are merlitons which have taken the "low road". They are being sacrificed into procreation. Rather than providing a yummy bite, these are on their way to becoming plants. I've been told they are very hardy and can be grown anywhere. Anywhere but my backyard, that is. I've planted three of them, and not a single plant survived long enough to pro-create.
If you grew up in Hilo, you might know a merliton by two other names, pipinola or chayote. If you are from the Land Down Under, you might be familiar with "choko". For you linear people, merliton=pipinola=chayote=choko. In Hawaii, we see two varieties, one with wrinkled skin and another with smooth skin (less common). The mature fruit in the picture above are the smooth-skinned variety.
My soul sister SueBee developed a strange affinity for merlitons after sampling some of mom's pickles. Made in the style of pickled mango, merliton pickles stay crunchy longer. I was just telling SueBee that I haven't had merliton, in any form, in ages, but I just realized that I lied. Just last month, at the garage sale, the same garage sale where I sold the li hing lollipops, I sold bags of mom's pickles. While the pickles didn't sell out at the garage sale, the club advisor ended up buying all that mom made in the two weeks following the garage sale. He admitted that he had developed some kind of pickle addiction, adding that the pickles reminded him of the pickled mango his family used to make.
The lone merliton from mom was not pickled, nor did it become a plant. It became a delicious side dish for dinner. This quasi-recipe came from my friend Jill. Its quick, easy, and requires very little effort. Peel merliton under running water (SueBee can provide pictures of what happens when this is not done). Slice 1 cm thick, digging out seed fragments as necessary. Rinse and pat dry. Sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides. Dust with flour. Pan fry in shallow oil until brown. Some of you may recognize this method as the way many local people cook eggplant.
I love this with "local dressing" (mayonnaise/shoyu). When cooked, the merliton flesh still holds its shape, so don't cook it to the point where it is saggy and falling apart. The kids refuse to have any of it, and that's just fine with me since 1 merliton doesn't yield a whole lot anyway. After I peel the merliton (under running water - did I mention this already?), I slice of the ends and give them to Akira. He cannot get enough!
And SueBee, in case you're wondering, I'm planning additional merliton blogs when I get my hands (not peeling because I listened to mom) on the pickle recipe. Of course, all merliton posts will be dedicated to you. Luv ya!~