Smooth Melon (蒲瓜)
The smooth melon, also known as the smooth luffa, is an annual vine that is native to Asia. The smooth melon resembles that of a baseball bat, or more closely connected, a cucumber in shape. Its shape often varies between that of slightly curved or straight, and is generally large growing to 2inches in diameter and 12-30 inches in length. The skin of the smooth melon is light green, and its surface is smooth and waxy.
Available predominantly during the summer season, the smooth melon is hard to find as it is not one of the most popular of melons. Despite this, overall the pricing is normally average, making it an accessible vegetable.
It is best to chose the smooth melon when it is immature, as when it matures, the skin becomes dried and unpleasant to eat. However, when mature, the smooth melon can be very useful within the house – remove the skin and seeds to used the fibres as cleaning sponges. The greener the smooth melon, the younger and more uniform their flesh will be making them perfect to cook and eat. The flesh inside the smooth melon is white and firm.
Similar to other Chinese melons, one must wash the smooth melon well, and slice as desired. There is no need to peel the skin, as it can be eaten raw alone or within other meals. However, one does need to be warned not to overcook the smooth melons as this will destroy the freshness and firmness of the inside of the vegetable, making it mushy. Likewise to its relatives, the smooth melon is often included within stir-fries which contain meat, absorbing the delicious flavours.