Silk Squash (絲瓜)
As its name alludes, the silk squash is a member of the squash family, can often goes by a variety of names including ‘silk goud’ and ‘angled luffa’. Traditionally, silk squashes have a dark green skin, with ridges that run throughout the length of the exterior. They also share aesthetic similarities to that of cucumbers and zucchinis. Typically, the silk squash can grow to between 1-2 inches in diameter and the same in length. The cross section of silk squashes reveals a white flesh, with a foamy texture.
When immature, the silk squash’s taste and texture is extremely similar to that of zucchinis, although silk squashes are far more superior and useful within liquid based meals such as sauces and soups. As they mature, the ridges on the surface of the squash thickens and toughens, and the seeds begin to develop undesirable properties. Therefore, silk squashes are best when in season and slightly immature. Furthermore, they can be found mainly throughout the warm season, between June and August, making them perfect additions to your summer meals.
As aforementioned, another name that the silk squash goes by is ‘angled luffa’. This alternative title suggests one of the most prominent uses of this vegetable. Similar to a sponge (loofah), silk squashes are used as natural cleaning sponges once bought, aged and dried.
Despite this practical function, silk squashes are wonderfully versatile vegetables. To prepare the silk squash for cooking, you must wash them well, remove the ridges but the leave the skin in between as to displace the tougher skin. If the skin of the silk squash is extremely tough, also discard the skin. Then, chop as desired. Dissimilar to other squashes or melons, the silk squash cooks quickly and shrinks considerably in size. Too cook silk squashes one can sauté or steam, using the silk squashes in a myriad of ways. Silk squashes are perfect additions to a variety of meals, including stir-fries, used as an absorbing agent within broths, sauces or soups, as it retains its delicate flavours whilst soaking up the flavouring of the other ingredients.