Although called “melon” or “Donqua,” winter melon is actually a type of gourd and a distant cousin of the cucumber.
Fittingly, they’re also called a wax gourd, ash gourd, or winter gourd depending on whom you ask. These gourds are a good source of fiber, vitamin C, magnesium, calcium, and antioxidants.
With a waxy, light green skin, and growing in extreme cases up to 100 lbs, winter melons have many culinary uses across Asia. They’re popular in soups, braised or simmered, in stir fries, in curries, and more. They can also be candied as a sweet. Beyond the flesh, their seeds can also be roasted and eaten as a snack.
Even more so than many other gourds, winter melons don’t have an especially strong flavor. This depends on maturity — immature fruit will be somewhat sweeter — but a fully mature winter melon will taste somewhat floral and refreshing, similar to a cucumber. Because they’re so mild, winter melons are typically cooked alongside other, more intense ingredients and spices whose flavors they will absorb.
When in season, Uwajimaya carries winter melons — alongside other gourds and squash — in our produce department.
EnglishWax Gourd, White Gourd