What the hell do I do with: Chokos
At my grocer, the chokos are positioned between boxes of herbs and seeds on some sub par real estate in front of a pylon. There they lurk in the ignominy of their muddy green colour, the wrinkled wreckage of their skins resembling the necks of the inhabitants of my local RSL.
I walked past them for nearly two years before I was able to pick one of the ghastly looking things up and buy it. When I finally worked up the courage to do something with it and started peeling, the skin on my left hand immediately started to tighten and flake off. I dropped the choko and ran off to Google ‘sudden onset choko scabies’ with my remaining right hand. (Turns out it wasn’t scabies, just some sort of sap that sits under the skin).
Equally as flakey is the choko’s folkloric reputation of being a cheap apple substitute in the Hot Apple Pies at Mcdonald’s. Now McDonald’s apple pies contain a lot of things; including 4 kinds of artificial thickeners, two kinds of emulsifiers, two kinds of ‘acidity regulators’ and a colour called 160a (I would have gone for 155d for caramelisation, but that’s just me). The pies do not, however, contain chokos. And I can see why. When Google had reassured me that chokos weren't a vegetable with a vendetta and I got back to my cooking, I learned that, like the oldies that won’t budge from the RSL pokies, chokos stubbornly retain the firmness of a semi-trailer tyre despite being cooked for an hour and a half. The stubborn little buggers are the complete opposite of fast food.
Having said that, with a flavour that miraculously blends the blandness of cucumber and potato, I discovered that it wouldn’t have been at all hard for Mcdonald’s to dress chokos up as apples. So if you have and an hour and a half and plenty of idle curiosity to spare, pop on some gloves and make the pie filling legend come true.
Ignominious Choko (apple) compote
* 300g peeled chokos (you’ll need a paring knife for this) chopped into .5cm cubes
* 5.5 cups of water (you need this much because you will be boiling/simmering them for the greater part of the rest of your life)
* 1 tsp lemon juice
* ½ teaspoon cinnamon
* 2 packed tablespoons of soft, dark brown sugar
* ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract (½ teaspoon if you’re using vanilla essence)
Put all ingredients into a small saucepan, bring to a boil. Boil the hell out of it for half an hour and then simmer for another hour, or until the cubes of choko are soft-ish or you run out of patience. Eat as is or spoon over yogurt or ice cream (maybe just yoghourt will do - don’t waste your ice cream). To really live the McDonald’s dream (without the funky palm/canola oil deep fry), cut a square sheet of puff pastry in half and spoon the compote (completely cooled) onto half of the rectangle shapes you cut, fold the other half over a the top, seal by pressing the edges with your fingers and bake on trays lined with baking paper in a 200 degree celsius oven until pastry is golden - just like those arches.
By Christina Gee