Chinese
Braised Winter Melon

This braised winter melon (红烧冬瓜 – hóngshāo dōngguā) recipe is a simple, healthy, and delicious side dish that showcases this delicate ingredient at its best.

Winter melons are usually in season in late summer or fall, although they are available year-round in Asian markets!

Braised Winter Melon

Winter melon, also known as wax gourd or ash gourd, is a large oblong melon with a blue-green waxy rind that has a whitish powdery coating. It is comparable in size to a watermelon, although it is usually more oblong in shape.

The flesh of the winter melon is white and has a very delicate flavor (some would say it doesn't have much flavor).

So why eat it?

Winter melon contains a lot of water, so it helps rehydrate and refresh the body during the summer, when it is in season.

Most often, you’ll see it in soups, like our Winter Melon Soup with Meatballs and our Winter Melon Pork Rib Soup. You might also see it as an ingredient in hot pot or in desserts like wife cakes (老婆饼 – lǎopó bìng in Mandarin or lou po beng in Cantonese) or candied winter melon.

The only other common way I've seen it prepared is braised, as in this recipe for red braised winter melon.

A homely and familiar dish

Braised winter melon is nothing new. It is a common preparation and was a staple home-cooked dish I ate when I was growing up, when we had winter melons.

There weren't many ways to make it where I come from in Shanghai. People would put it in soup or braise it. In Ningbo, they would ferment it so it tasted like stinky tofu, but I've never tried that!

Bill and I recently went to Shanghai. I was visiting a friend at work and we had lunch in her company cafeteria. I saw this dish and it brought back childhood memories. The flavor was rich and refreshing at the same time.

I've had this recipe in mind for a while, and tasting it that day in the cafeteria strengthened my decision to share it on the blog.

This is a vegetarian dish. As with any vegetable, when you cook it well, that vegetable really shines. Everyone prepares this recipe the way they like it or the way their family has prepared it. There is no right or wrong.

Some people like it a little fresh and crispy, while others like it softer. This recipe falls somewhere in the middle.

Pick up a piece of braised winter melon with chopsticks

I hope this recipe helps popularize winter melon, as it has a very long shelf life like most squashes and is also quite easy to grow in your own garden!

Braised Winter Melon: Recipe Instructions

Process the winter melon by removing the seeds from the center. Cut away the peel and the hard green layer underneath.

remove the peel from the winter melon

Wash off any remaining white powder from the peel, then cut the melon into 3-4 cm (1 inch x 1.5 inch) pieces.

Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat and lightly brown both sides of the winter melon pieces, about 3 minutes per side.

Then add the garlic, ginger and the white parts of the spring onion.

chopped ginger, garlic and chopped spring onion

Cook them for about 1 minute, until they are fragrant.

ginger, garlic and spring onions in the wok with winter melon

Then add the oyster sauce, dark soy sauce and white pepper.

season winter melon with sauces

Mix everything well.

winter melon with sauce ingredients

Add the water and star anise (if using). Cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes, or until the winter melon is fork tender. (If there is still too much liquid, raise the heat and stir for a couple of minutes to reduce and thicken the sauce.)

Taste and add salt if needed. Add spring onion leaves and serve.

I hope you like this recipe!

Braised Winter Melon
Pick up a piece of braised winter melon with chopsticks

Braised Winter Melon

This braised winter melon (红烧冬瓜 – hóngshāo dōngguā) recipe is a simple, healthy, and delicious side dish that showcases this delicate ingredient at its best.

Braised Winter Melon

servants: 4

Instructions

  • Process the winter melon by removing the seeds from the center. Cut away the rind and the hard green layer underneath. Wash off the white powder left by the rind, then cut the melon into 1″ x 1.5″ (3-4 cm) pieces.

  • Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat and lightly brown both sides of the winter melon pieces, about 3 minutes per side.

  • Then add the garlic, ginger and the white parts of the shallots. Cook for about 1 minute, until fragrant. Then add the oyster sauce, dark soy sauce and white pepper. Mix everything well.

  • Add the water and star anise (if using). Cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes, or until the winter melon is fork tender. (If there is still too much liquid, raise the heat and stir for a couple of minutes to reduce and thicken the sauce.)

  • Taste and add salt if needed. Add spring onion leaves and serve.

nutritional values

Calories: 87kilocalorie (4%) Carbohydrates: 5G (2%) Protein: 1G (2%) Fat: 7G (11%) Saturated fats: 1G (5%) Polyunsaturated fats: 2G Monounsaturated fat: 4G Trans Fats: 0.03G Sodium: 312mg (13%) Potassium: 25mg (1%) Fiber: 0.2G (1%) Sugar: 0.1G Vitamin A: 31IU (1%) C vitamin: 3mg (4%) Soccer: 61mg (6%) Iron: 2mg (11%)

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