Melon is quite a versatile ingredient to use in cooking. From watermelon to cantaloupe, melon can add an element of freshness to dishes, as well as some much-appreciated sweetness.
One sorely underrated type of melon has to be winter melon. Popular in Southeast Asian cooking, this type of melon is a hearty and delicious vegetable that can be used in soups, curries, drinks, and more.
Are you interested in adding winter melon to your garden and cooking some unique winter melon dishes? Not only is winter melon fairly versatile, but it’s also very easy to cook with. Check out these delicious recipes we collected from around the web!
What Is Winter Melon?
Winter melon, also known as the ash gourd or wax gourd, is a type of melon native to Asian countries like Thailand, Malaysia, and India. It’s a very mild fruit with a subtle sweet flavor. The seeds and flesh of the winter melon are a translucent white color. While it may look appetizing raw, winter melon should not be eaten without steaming or simmering it beforehand, which really brings out those subtle flavors. Typically, winter melon can be found in Asian supermarkets during late autumn. They also keep very well– approximately three months when ripe– so don’t feel pressured to cook your winter melon right away!
5 Winter Melon Soup Recipes
Winter melon soup has to be the most popular way to cook and serve winter melon. This is likely because the easiest way to cook this tasty gourd is by steaming and simmering, which can easily and quickly be done in a broth. The most widely-made type of winter melon soup is a Chinese-based meatball variety, which is typically eaten in autumn when warm days still occur and you might not want a very hot soup like chili or stew. However, there are also some other great ways to soupify your winter melon through recipes from around the world.
Steamed Stuffed Winter Melon Soup
People generally like to eat soup out of something edible. There’s a reason why bread bowls are so popular! For a lighter version, try this steamed and stuffed winter melon soup recipe. Give this one a shot if you have a steaming rack and substantially large pot, because you’ll need it.
Chinese Winter Melon Soup with Meatballs
This has to be the most classic version of winter melon soup, and it’s a real crowd-pleaser. Not only is this recipe insanely easy to make and requires little in the way of complicated or rare ingredients, but you have the option of making it on the stove or in your crockpot. The results are a savory, light broth-based soup with a punch of flavor.
Pressure Cooker Winter Melon Pork Ribs Soup
If you own a pressure cooker, you understand the constant itch to use it. Once you bust it out for all of your upcoming autumn recipes, why not give this winter melon and pork ribs soup recipe a shot? The secret ingredient has to be the dried black dates, which melt in your mouth when they’re cooked. Set it and forget it!
Winter Melon and Date Soup
Another tasty date-based winter melon soup is this savory and sweet rendition. This is another pretty simple recipe that requires little more than an average-sized pot and a dependable knife for cutting through your winter melon. Goji berries add a distinct cranberry-like sweetness to this dish.
Winter Melon and Chicken Tomato Soup
Tomato pairs surprisingly well with winter melon, as does chicken. This very basic winter melon soup recipe is somewhat minimalist in nature, but it doesn’t skimp on flavor. Make sure you don’t skip the cooking sake– it really adds flavor to the dish.
4 Winter Melon Tea and Drink Recipes
Who doesn’t love tea? Because winter melon has such a subtle flavor and should be boiled before eating, many different cultures use this tasty fruit to make sweet and satisfying teas. Just as well, winter melon is a great ingredient to use in cocktails and shrubs. And if you’re crazy about bubble tea, winter melon is perfect for making latte and creamy tea beverages in autumn.
Barley and Candied Winter Melon Drink
When one thinks of barely in a beverage, beer and other heavy spirits tend to come to mind. However, barley can also be a refreshing ingredient to use in non-alcoholic beverages. This tasty barley and winter melon recipe is perfect for the warmer days before the temperature drops. It’s a very minimal recipe as well– but you’ll have to hunt for candied winter melon, which you may be able to find at international supermarkets or online.
Winter Melon Tea
This may be the most basic winter melon tea out there, but it makes our list because it really stands on its own without any fancy ingredients. Simple and refreshing, this tea only calls for winter melon and two different types of sugar. Enjoy it hot or cold!
Winter Melon Bubble Tea Latte
Bubble tea has to be the tastiest beverage out there and can be made with an insanely wide variety of flavors. Winter melon is one of them, and it really suits the drink with its subtle sweet flavor. Just make sure you get black tapioca pearls and prep them ahead of time. The whipped cream is optional, but it really makes this turn from a refreshing drink into a dessert treat.
The “Fields of Travel” Cocktail
We had to throw a cocktail on this list! Your bartender may not know what the Fields of Travel cocktail entails, but you can easily make it at home with some sparkling sake, green chartreuse liqueur, zucchini (or cucumber) water, and a nice cucumber garnish.
4 Winter Melon Salad Recipes
We’ve mentioned that winter melon should not be consumed raw quite a few times thus far. But it’s worth noting that when we say “winter melon salad”, we don’t mean a traditional lettuce-based salad with raw vegetables. Because winter melon should be cooked, it can be used for creamy vegetable salads and slaws. If you don’t like your hearty salads to be warm, don’t worry. Most of these delicious winter melon salad recipes can be chilled and enjoyed cold as well.
Winter Melon Salad
If you like potato salad, you’ll like this Japanese-style winter melon salad. It’s a very simple recipe that is made the same way as any other potato salad. Just make sure you get the right ingredients from your local Japanese grocery store, such as Mentsuyu (a soup broth that comes in a bottle) and Japanese-style Kewpie mayonnaise. The flavor really is different from Western mayo.
Ash Gourd Neer Poosani Salad
This Indian-style salad is one of the healthiest on this list, so give it a shot if you’re trying to keep it together before the holiday season feasts begin. While this recipe recommends service ash gourd raw, we recommend steaming it or roasting it a bit before incorporating it into the dish. This raw salad should be served cold, and don’t skip any of the spices. They really pull the dish together and help the flavors melt together.
Simmered Winter Melon, Imitation Crab, and Okra
Are you a fan of seafood? Why not put together this simmered winter melon and imitation crab salad? Another tasty Japanese dish, this salad only requires a good pot to make. Just make sure you stock up on your Japanese essential ingredients, such as dashi stock, cooking sake, mirin, and some good soy sauce. The mild fruitiness of the winter melon and the grassy flavor of okra add some serious freshness to this salad.
Ash Gourd Pomegranate Salad
Pomegranate and winter melon come together to make this fresh, simple salad that can be served as a side dish at barbecues and holiday dinners. Make sure you buy your curd fresh!
5 Winter Melon Entree Recipes
Soups and salads may be tasty, but what about some heartier dishes? Despite winter melon’s subtle flavor, it can also be used in more substantial dishes like curry and stir-frys, and they also can be used to make some really delicious pickles! Since winter melon is such a light gourd to cook with, it won’t overpower your dishes and will instead add a fruity, light flavor to your creations.
Thai Winter Melon Stir-Fry
Stir frys are great for warming up in the autumn and winter. This Thai version of stir-fried winter melon and dried shrimp combines the heat of bird’s eye chiles and the crispness of carambola. The cooking time is pretty quick too, which makes this recipe great for last-minute lunches.
Winter Melon with Minced Pork
Savory minced pork and fruity winter melon come together in this delectable stir-fried dish. Make sure that you don’t substitute the preserved soya beans for non-preserved varieties– the tanginess of the brine pulls the flavor out of the pork in the best way possible. If you own a wok, it’s time to bust it out to make this delicious entree!
Light Chicken Curry with Winter Melon
If you love curry but don’t like how heavy some types of curry can be, this light chicken curry with winter melon could be a great recipe to try. Technically a red curry, this dish incorporates coconut milk with savory spices and hearty chicken legs. The winter melon balances the heavier parts of this recipe, resulting in a well-rounded and satisfying dish.
Dried Shrimps and Winter Melon
This could technically reside in our “salad” section, but this dried shrimp and winter melon recipe is hearty enough to stand on its own as an entree. This recipe originates in the Zhejiang province of China and involves little more than frying dried shrimps and raw sliced winter melon in oil before deglazing with chicken broth. It can be enjoyed with rice on the side or on its own!
Pork Ribs with Beer Caramel and Winter Melon Pickle
This is the only non-traditional recipe on our list, but boy does it satisfy! The prep is a bit intensive (you’ll be making beer caramel from scratch, which can take some trial and error) but the winter melon pickle is definitely the easiest part of this recipe. You could ever forgo the rest of the recipe and just stock up on winter melon pickles!
Despite being a relatively unknown ingredient outside of the Asian continent, winter melon doesn’t require any fancy cooking methods. These recipes are all pretty easy to take on, even for the novice chef. From hot to warm to cold dishes, winter melon can be used to make a variety of meals that are appropriate for the fluctuating weather of early to late autumn. Who wouldn’t want to cook with some tasty winter melon?
How was our list of tasty winter melon recipes? Drop us a comment below and let us know which one of these recipes you’ve tried!