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Winter Melon - Glossary of Chinese Ingredients and Cooking Terms


Winter Melon

While it's bit difficult to see in the photo, many of the winter melon seeds are white.

Rhonda Parkinson
Definition: Winter melon, or Benincasa Hispida to use its scientific name, resembles a large watermelon with its oblong shape and dark green, waxy skin. Inside, the flesh and seeds are white, looking like they have been lightly covered with snow. However, its name probably comes from the fact that, although grown during the summer and autumn, it can be stored and eaten during the winter months.
Winter melon has a very mild, sweet taste. It is used in soups and stir-fries, where it absorbs the flavors of the ingredients it is cooked with. A famous Chinese dish is winter melon soup, where slices of the melon are simmered in a broth with Chinese dried mushrooms, ham, and seasonings. In a popular banquet version of the dish, winter melon serves as cooking vessel, main ingredient, and serving dish - the soup is steamed inside a whole winter melon and served that way at the table. Winter melon is also used in sweets, such as Chinese Wife Cake and the Indian treat Petha.

Winter melon can be found in most Asian supermarkets. While whole winter melon may be available in season, normally it is easier to find cut pieces. Placed in a plastic bag in the crisper section of the refrigerator, the melon slices will last for a couple of days.

Winter melon is considered to be a yin or cooling food.

Written by Rhonda Parkinson
Also Known As: Dong Gua, Dong Gwa, wax gourd
Alternate Spellings: wintermelon
Recipes using winter melon:

Winter Melon Soup

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