By Request


Wednesday, January 1, 2003

Chayote makes great base
for homemade narazuke

The world of Japanese pickles is a great departure from the dill pickle of the American deli. They have the common element of vinegar, but Japanese pickles incorporate soy sauce and sugar, as well as mirin or bonito stock in some cases.

Ellen Morishita is interested in narazuke, a specialty of Japan's Nara region.

Narazuke is distinguished by the use of sake kasu -- the lees, or the leftover solids, from sake making. Sake kasu is available in local Japanese markets such as Marukai, in the refrigerated section near the miso, which it resembles.

What you can't find in Hawaii is the firm-textured squash that is the traditional basis of narazuke. It is called shiro uri, or white squash, although it is more a cross between a cucumber and a melon, not much like the togan squash readily available locally.

Hawaii recipes normally call for chayote when making this pickle. You might also substitute green papaya or watermelon rind. The pickle should be golden brown and very crunchy, a texture you won't get from a softer squash.

These recipes for chayote come from "Favorite Island Cookery Book VI," the venerable cookbook series from the Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin. One is for Morishita's narazuke, another for namasu, another variety of Japanese pickle that uses sugar and vinegar. This localized namasu, however, uses lime juice in place of the vinegar.

Chayote Kasuzuke

6 to 8 chayotes
Salt to taste
>> Sauce:
1/2 cup soy sauce
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup sake kasu, crumbled
3 to 4 tablespoons powdered mustard

Peel, slice and salt squash. Let stand 1 to 2 hours, then rinse and pat dry. Place in a jar.

Combine sauce ingredients and stir to dissolve sugar. Pour into jar. Refrigerate 1 to 2 days before eating.

Chayote Namasu

2 medium chayotes
1 teaspoon roasted sesame seeds
>> Dressing:
2 teaspoons slivered ginger
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Halve squash horizontally and remove pit. Slice lengthwise into strips, then crosswise into smaller strips. Blanch in boiling water 40 seconds. Drain and run under cold water.

Combine dressing ingredients and stir to dissolve sugar. Pour over squash; toss and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Chill.

Nutritional information unavailable.

Food Stuffs: Morsels

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"By Request," Honolulu Star-Bulletin,
500 Ala Moana, No. 7-210, Honolulu 96813.
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Asterisk (*) after nutritional analyses in the
Body & Soul section indicates calculations by
Joannie Dobbs of Exploring New Concepts,
a nutritional consulting firm.

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