winter melon

A double misnomer because the tropical winter melon is harvested in the summer and is a squash, rather than a melon. The name "winter" comes from the snowlike blotching that occurs on mature squashes. Winter melons can range in color from pale to dark green, are shaped somewhat like a watermelon and can weigh up to 100 pounds. The porous flesh is white and has a flavor reminiscent of zucchini. Winter melon is available year-round in Chinese markets and sometimes in specialty produce stores. It's typically sold in large slices wrapped in plastic. Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Before using, peel off the skin and scoop out the seeds. It should be cooked briefly and is popular in stir-fry dishes as well as various Asian soups, especially winter melon soup, which is classically served in a scooped-out winter-melon shell. Winter melon is also called ash pumpkin (or ash gourd), dong qua (or dung gwa), Chinese preserving melon and winter gourd (or winter squash).

From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.

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