Winter Melon (冬瓜)
Winter melons are an extremely popular vegetable throughout Asia. They resemble that of normal large watermelons, but are a hairy version of this vegetable. The skin is dark green and waxy, with the inside of winter melons being white. When they are immature, the winter melons are incredibly hairy, however they lose this as they develop. The sizes of Winter melons vary, however, the majority measure 10 inches or more in diameter, and can weight up to 25-100 pounds.
This vegetable is common throughout the warmer seasons, between May to September. However, the name may have originated because many store and eat winter melons during the Winter season.
Similar to other melons, winter melons are more than 90% water, making them extremely juicy. Despite the flesh has little flavor, though it has a mild, sweet taste, it does absorbs the other flavours of the foods it is cooking with. It is suggested that winter melons should be eaten as soon as possible, as to maintain the freshness of its taste and texture.
To prepare winter melons, the procedure is similar to that of normal melons. One must remove the seeds from inside and the coarse fibres. After peeling, make sure that you rinse it well, and then cut as desired.
Winter melons can be cooked in a variety of ways. In addition to eating it raw, it is often best sautéed or steamed. The most famous traditional Chinese cuisine that includes winter melons is called ‘Winter Melon Pond’, and is a soup which is served inside the hollowed out melon shell. This traditional dish includes chicken broth that is cooked with the skin of the winter melon. Sometimes, the skin of the melon in which the soup is served in has been elaborately carved in a variety of motifs, such as dragons and phoenixes. However, winter melons can also be used within traditional stir-fries, with both meat and other vegetables.