Saturday, July 18, 2015

Winter Melon 冬瓜

The winter melon, also called white gourd, winter gourd, tallow gourd, Chinese preserving melon, orash gourd,  is a vine grown for its very large fruit, eaten as a vegetable when mature.

It is the only member of the genus Benincasa. The fruit is fuzzy when young. The immature melon has thick white flesh that is sweet when eaten. 
By maturity, the fruit loses its hairs and develops a waxy coating, giving rise to the name wax gourd, and providing a long shelf life. The melon may grow as large as 80 cm in length. 
Although the fruit is referred to as a "melon," the fully grown crop is not sweet. Originally cultivated in Southeast Asia, the winter melon is now widely grown in East Asia and South Asia as well.

Winter melon is also a common name for members of the Inodorus cultivar group of the muskmelon (Cucumis melo L), more commonly known as casaba or honeydew melons.

The winter melon requires very warm weather to grow but can be stored for many months much like winter squash. It is commonly eaten throughout winter in countries of deciduous vegetation such as China, as one of the few vegetables available during winter, hence its Chinese name literally means 'winter melon'. The winter melon can typically be stored for 12 months.

In Vietnamese cuisine, it is called bí đao, which is usually used to make soup or stew. When cooked with pork short ribs, the resulting soup is traditionally thought to help produce more milk for breastfeeding mothers.[citation needed]

In Chinese cuisine the melons are used in stir fry or usually combined with pork or pork/beef bones to make winter melon soup, often served in the scooped out melon, carved by scraping off the waxy coating. It is also chopped and candied as wintermelon candy (táng dōng guā) to be commonly eaten at New Year festivals, or as filling forSweetheart cake (lǎopó bǐng). It has also been used as the base filling in Chinese and Taiwanese mooncakes for the Moon Festival.

Winter melon is called kundol, kondol, or gondol in the Philippines. It is candied (referred to plainly as kundol)and is used as a pastry filing for bakpia (hopia in the Philippines). It is also an ingredient in some savory soups (sabaw) and stir-fries (guisado). It is one of the vegetables mentioned in the Filipino folk song "Bahay Kubo."

In North India and Pakistan, the vegetable is also used to prepare a candy called Petha. In South Indian cuisine, it is used to make curries.

Occasionally, it is used to produce a fruit drink which has a very distinctive taste. It is usually sweetened with caramelized sugar. In Southeast Asia, the drink is widely marketed as winter melon tea or winter melon punch.

The shoots, tendrils, and leaves of the plant may also be eaten as greens.

In India, Ash gourd is used to make a liquefied dish with curds or buttermilk (a popular traditional South Indian recipe).


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