These chayote dumplings AKA Niouk Yen or Boulettes Chou Chou will blow your mind! They are one of the most popular street food in Mauritius and a favourite amongst locals. If you have never made Niouk Yen, you have come to the right place as I show you how it’s done!
Chayote, Chouchou or Chow Chow?
Chayote is a squash vegetable that is widely consumed in Mauritius and other parts of the world such as Mexico and Latin american countries. In Mauritius this vegetable is widely known as ‘chou chou’ and in other countries it is called ‘chow chow’ or ‘Choko’. The chayote is a firm, pear-shaped vegetable high in water content, and is popular for making dumplings, gratins or sauté. They can also be added to a Mauritian beef stew. The variety of chayote grown in Mauritius has prickly skin, however there are other common varieties with smooth skin. The chayote has a mild taste, similar to courgettes, and its flavour can be enhanced by adding herbs, onions and garlic.
Mauritian boulettes chou chou
Also known as ‘Niouk Yen’ or ‘Boulettes Chouchou’, these popular Mauritian dumplings have a Chinese influence, and can be found in restaurants and takeaways all over the country. They are also available in Chinese restaurants where you can order all sorts of steamed dumplings or small portions of food called Dim Sum. You can eat the dumplings on their own with a sauce, or in a light broth with other dumplings, topped with freshly sliced spring onions.
What ingredients you will need for boulettes chou chou
- Chayote – Fresh chayote is best for this recipe. You can use any variety.
- Prawns – Traditinoally dried shrimp are used to make dumplings. However I have used raw prawns that have been marinated with minced garlic and soy sauce, and added to the chayote mixture. You can also use meat such as minced chicken or pork.
- Ginger – Freshly minced ginger is an important ingredient that adds extra flavour to the chayote.
- Soy sauce: It adds so much flavour and saltiness to this almost bland vegetable.
- Sesame oil: Brings a nutty, almost smoky note to the dumplings.
- Corn starch: Great for binding the mixture together, making it easier to form dumpling balls. Cornstarch helps the dumplings retain their round shape when steaming.
- Shiitake mushrooms: Shiitake mushrooms are super flavourful and adds a touch of umami to the dumplings.
- Spring onions: For taste and garnishing when serving.
How to make boulettes chou chou
Start by peeling and grating chayote. As they contain a lot of water, the excess liquid needs to be squeezed out of them. Adding salt and leaving the grated chayote to rest for a few minutes will help draw out most of the liquid from it. You can use a cheese cloth to drain the excess water, or use your hands to squeeze it. It is best to repeat this process to ensure most of the liquid has been removed.
The next step is to add flavour and season the mixture. Add minced prawns along with dried mushrooms, soy sauce and sesame oil. Add some spring onions to the mixture for extra flavour. Ensure you season it, taking into account the fact that soy sauce is salty. Cornstarch is an important ingredient in making dumplings as it acts as a binding agent. Without the cornstarch the dumplings will not hold together and will fall apart when steaming. Adding enough cornstarch will help retain the round shape of the dumplings. You can test this by steaming the first two dumplings and adding more cornstarch to the mixture if needed. I have used a bamboo steamer to cook the dumplings, however you can use any steamer you have.
Dipping sauce ideas for the dumplings
- Chilli-Sesame oil: Add 2 tsp of dried crushed red chillies to 2 tbsp sesame oil. Mix well and leave to infuse. You can also add some finely chopped red chillies for an extra crunch.
- Soy sauce: Add 1 tsp honey to 3 tsp light soy sauce and mix well. Stir in 1 minced garlic clove, 1 tbsp wine vinegar and a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds. Leave to infuse until the dumplings are ready for serving.
- 500g Chayote
- 100g raw king prawns (or 50g dried shrimp)
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp minced ginger
- 1 tbsp Fish sauce
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 3 tbsp spring onions, thinly sliced
- 4 heaped tbsp corn flour
- 2 tbsp oil
- 5g dried shiitake mushrooms (about 4), finely chopped
- 3 tbsp light soy sauce
- Grate chayote: Wash and peel the chayote. Cut into quarters and remove the core. Grate the chayote and add 1 tsp salt. Leave to rest for a few minutes and squeeze as much liquid as you can out of them. You may need to repeat this process to ensure most of the water has been extracted from the grated chayote.
- Marinate prawns: In a food processor mince the raw king prawns. Add 1 tbsp light soy sauce, 1/2 tsp garlic, salt and pepper and mix well. If using dried shrimp mince it, and you do not need to add the extra ingredients. Dried shrimp has a more intense flavour than raw prawns.
- Prepare the mixture: Add the minced prawns to the chayote and the rest of the ingredients, reserving 1 tbsp of the spring onions for garnishing. Mix well, making sure all the ingredients have blended well into the mixture.
- Add cornstarch: Add half of the cornstarch and stir well. Add more cornstarch as necessary. You should be able to form balls and they should not fall apart.
- Steam: Place the dumplings in a oiled steamer and steam for 10 minutes, until cooked.
- Serve: Sprinkle spring onions over the top and serve immediately with a dipping sauce.
Nutrition InformationServing Size 20 dumplings
Amount Per Serving Calories 175
If you enjoy Chinese-Mauritian food why not try this hearty Chinese Chicken Rice Noodle soup.