CHAYOTE Faat sau gwa / Haap jeung gwa

This vegetable has many names, and each name helps to identify it. It is called 'vegetable pear' because the stem end is narrower than the base. It is called 'mango squash' because it grows on a vine like a squash but has a single, large, flat, oval seed. Both Cantonese names invoke religious images: haap jeung means Christian hands in prayer, while Faat sau means Buddha's hand.

In any case, these melons are usually pale green to white, with a smooth or sparsely spiny, somewhat furrowed skin. They vary in length, up to about 8 inches, and will feel rather heavy for their size should you pick one up.

Select firm, unblemished specimens, the smaller the more tender. Large ones yield more flesh for the time spent peeling; tiny ones (2-3 inches) need no peeling at all.