Fuzzy Melon
Melons whole & cut [Hairy Melon; Mo Qua, Mo Gwa, Tseet gwa (China); Heari Meron (Japan (got that?)); Timum Balu (Malay); Faeng (Thai); Bi (Viet); Benincasa hispida var chiehgua]

A variety of the large to gigantic Ash Gourd that's picked and eaten at a much earlier stage of growth. In this stage it's covered with short bristles, thus the name, but by time I get them home most have rubbed off. Many recipes say to peel them, but you'll have more flavor and more melon if you just scrape them.

Asian recipes usually presume they are about 1/2 pound, but the here in Los Angeles they run from 1 pound to a shade over 2 pounds. The photo specimen was 9 inches long, 3 inches diameter and weighed 1 pound 9 ounces. The lower photo shows the same melons along with a mature Winter Melon (a rather small one).

Young & Old Melons Buying:   Large numbers of Fuzzy Melons are now grown in California so they're easy to find in markets serving Southeast Asian, Chinese and Indian communities. Look for nice bright melons without soft or discolored spots. Melons weighing 1 pound are good, but I haven't seen much difference up to 2 pounds. Asian recipes usually presume long melons weighing about 1/2 pound.

Storage:   Whole gourds, if in good condition, have lasted some days just sitting on my kitchen floor, but loosely bagged in the refrigerator they should last a couple of weeks if undamaged. Once cut they will keep refrigerated for less than a week.

Prep:   Most recipes call for peeling, but a better plan is to just scrape off the outer dark green fuzzy skin with the back edge of your prep knife. This gives you more flavor and more melon for your money.

Cooking:   Fuzzy melon is used in soups and stir fries, and in India in curries. It is very tender and delicate but, as with other gourds, chunks hold their shape well compared to squash. Most recipes call for cooking for about 5 minutes.

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