A Filipino soup, flavored with ginger and pepper leaves. The traditional vegetable that goes in it is papaya, but my family prefers chayote squash or christophene (sechium edule). Chayote goes by many names, like mirliton, custard marrow, vegetable pear (probably because of the shape), and mango squash, the last one a bit confusing, since it neither looks like a mango nor a squash and doesn’t taste like either.
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 3-4 lb. chicken, cut into 8 pieces
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 large onion, sliced
handful of ginger root, peeled, chopped into rough pieces and crushed
salt or fish sauce to taste
chayote, peeled, de-seeded and cut lengthwise into eighths (or green papaya, peeled, de-seeded and cut into 1″ x 3″ pieces)
hot pepper leaves, or spinach, or other dark green vegetable (cut into small pieces if large)
Heat oil in a casserole over medium heat. Add garlic and onion and saute until onion is limp and garlic is golden (be careful not to burn the garlic). Add ginger and continue to cook a few more minutes until fragrant. Add chicken pieces to the pot, give everything a quick stir and cover. Bring heat down to low and cook 5-10 minutes, or until juices are rendered, stirring every few minutes. When juices have been rendered, add salt or fish sauce to taste, stir again, and cover, cooking another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Bring heat to high and add 6-8 cups water (more if the chicken is large). Bring to a boil quickly, then lower heat to a simmer and cook, covered, about 45 minutes or until chicken pieces are tender. Add chayote pieces (or papaya) and pepper leaves and cook 5 minutes more or until chayote is tender. Serve hot.