Elongated winter melon and fuzzy melon
There are numerous varieties of Chinese melons we like to grow. Depending on variety, they have a wide variety names in English and Chinese. The Chinese dialect will also make a difference. We refer to them as Fuzzy Melon ( mo gwa ) and Winter Melon (Don Gwa) (Wax Gourd), but our friends at Hong Kong call them something different in Mandarin.
The fuzzy melon will be ready to harvest first. Don't let them grow too large. Just the opposite is true with the winter melon. You can let them grow to maturity, which as mentioned, will develop a white, waxy surface. We have had some varieties of winter melon get up to 30 pounds and more!
I get most of the surprises when I buy my seeds from small Chinese markets as I travel North America. The biggest came from a market in Montreal China Town. Monsters that looked like watermelons! Others are elongated and look like huge cucumbers or zucchini with white wax on them.
I am growing 4 varieties of fuzzy melon this spring, but only plan to keep two. The other two will go to our friends as plants. They are too busy cooking to get them started themselves.
The fuzzy melon needs to be cooked within a week or two, but the winter melon can be stored for months. I suppose this is one reason it got its' name, plus the fact that it develops a white, waxy surface as it matures.
Of course everything is better when fresh off the vine, so....
We have seen these squash used in stir fry dishes and soups. Here is one recipe that serves 3 to 4.
|*||1 cup winter melon, or fuzzy melon (1/2 pound)|
|*||2 cups chicken broth|
|*||3 slices ginger|
|*||water, just enough to cover melon while cooking|
|*||3-4 Chinese dried black mushrooms|
|*||Salt and pepper to taste|
|*||2 tablespoon soy sauce, add more to taste|
|*||1 green onion, both green tops and bulb|
|1.||Soak dried mushrooms in hot water for 20 - 30 minutes until softened. Squeeze out any excess water|
|2.||Wash the melon, remove the skin, seeds, and pulp. Cut into 1 ½ inch pieces.|
|3.||Place the melon, ginger and thinly sliced onion in a wok with oil and stir fry (chow) for a few minutes|
|4.||Add the mushrooms, chicken broth and water to lightly cover the ingredients, soy sauce and seasonings as desired. Simmer for about 30 minutes or until the melon and mushrooms are tender.|
|5.||Add green onion for garnish. Serve hot.|
Some versions will also use small chunks of pork, ham or chicken. As with most soups, play with the recipe to satisfy your tastes.