Winter melon, white gourd, or ash gourd
Traditional Chinese Name:
冬瓜 (dōng guā)
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- The winter melon is actually a vine grown fruit that is eaten as a vegetable
- The melon itself can grow to be very large, hitting 1-2 m in length and 30 pounds at full maturity, although smaller single serving of these melons are also available for double-boiling (which are super cute)
- Both young and mature melons are used in Chinese soups
- It is commonly used in dishes, stews, steamed and soups
- People drink fresh melon juice
- It is quite popular in Hong Kong to use baby winter melon (see picture below) in soups
How do I prepare it?
- For the simple winter melon soup, you simply wash the melon, and cut into large cubes, keep the skin on so that melon doesn’t disintegrate, but this is up to you.
- If you’re making the fancy winter melon soup, you will need to carve out the WHOLE melon and double boil it as a soup
- For quick boil Chinese soups, I tend to peel and cut the melon into smaller cubes (for a faster boil)
Where can I buy it and cost?
- You can purchase fresh winter melon at most Asian supermarkets – they will be cut into manageable sizes and packaged
- In Hong Kong wet marts, you can purchase it by the weight, requesting the vendor to cut the amount you wish directly from the whole melon
- Winter melons are known to remove heatiness and helps detoxify the body
- It is ideal in removing phelgm from the lungs
- It is also particularly effective in regulating blood sugar levels
- The winter melon skin can also be boiled/eaten for someone with heat stroke or edema due to heat
Since it is a cooling food, it should be carefully consumed if pregnant (less than 3 months into term) or menstruating (can cause contractions)
If someone is experiencing diarrhea or loose stool, they should avoid consuming the winter melon seeds
Looking to build your basic Chinese Soup Pantry?
Check out this video to help you build your basic Chinese Soup kitchen pantry.