November 08, 2005

Buddha's Hand Squash (Chayote)

I recently saw an interesting vegetable at the supermarket. It is called a Buddha's hand squash (佛手瓜), and the name comes from its claw-like shape. The skin is green and it looks like the skin of a citrus fruit. I was ready to buy one just to find out what it was, but there was a notecard that explained its uses, and strangely, eating it was not one of the recommended uses. It can be used to make juice, to stew meat or vegetables, as an offering to Buddha, and there were also medicinal uses. I found this picture which shows the weird clawlike shape.

Searching on the internet, I found that this vegetable is originally from Mexico and Central America, and is called the chayote. The seed does not have a dormant period; it begins sprouting before the vegetable is ripe. The sprouts continue growing out through the vegetable skin. In order to plant this vegetable, you cannot plant only the seed, you have to plant the whole vegetable. This method of growing them is an extremely literal illustration of the Chinese proverby "Zhong gua, de gua" (種瓜得瓜), which means, you plant melons/squash, you get melons/squash (or, you reap what you sow). After being planted, they do not need to be watered or fertilized. According to various web pages, they can be eaten raw, fried, pickled, stuffed, mashed, etc.


  • thanks for posting this info. it was the only google hit that matched "buddha's hand squash" with its other name "chayote".

    thanks again.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at November 13, 2005 5:26 AM  

  • chayote have a soft flavor, sometimes like potatoes but really soft

    By Anonymous Iván, at November 13, 2005 10:02 AM  

  • There may be a Buddha's hand squash, but I think this photo must be a Buddha's hand citron. I just found one a few weeks ago as well. I have pictures and many links here, here, and here

    By Blogger the chocolate lady, at December 02, 2005 11:52 AM  

  • Thanks, Chocolate lady. That makes sense. There are now two items at the supermarket that have the same name in Chinese, but one looks like a fairly normal squash, and the other has fingers and the skin of a citrus fruit. After seeing it, I thought it was a fruit, but after checking on the internet, I thought it was a squash. Now I just want to know if you can eat it like a fruit.

    By Blogger Taiwanonymous, at December 02, 2005 3:43 PM  

  • In the photo it is indeed a type of Citrus, known as a Buddha's hand.

    Please note that the part of a squash plant that you east is also a fruit: It is derived from the female part of a flower and has seeds inside.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at July 10, 2007 1:51 AM  

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