What is Chinese Winter Squash?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

As a variety of Asian squash that is popular in Japan and China, the Chinese winter squash has a unique taste and appearance that set it aside from many other types of squash. Sometimes referred to as a fuzzy melon, the squash is distinguished by a dark green skin that is often mottled or speckled with lighter areas. Tiny hairs that are somewhat sharp and prickly cover the skin, making it a somewhat foreboding looking vegetable.


The insides of the Chinese winter squash more than make up for the intimidating exterior, however. The flesh is white in color and has a firm but pleasant texture. The taste is slightly saltier than most American varieties of squash, which make this variety an ideal compliment as a raw vegetable with dip or as a roasting vegetable.

Known by such names as koondor, tohgan, and dong gua, the winter squash can also be used as a base for a tasty blend of meats and vegetables. The thick skin can be hollowed out and the interior mixed with seasonings and other ingredients to make a filler. Loading the filler back into the rind and baking for 20 to 30 minutes can yield a beautiful and tasty entree contained it is own natural boat dish.

In an age when people are looking for alternatives to starch and carbohydrate filled favorites, the Chinese winter squash can also be used to prepare a dish that is very similar to mashed or creamed potatoes. Peeling the squash, dicing the interior into cubes, and then boiling them until they are soft will yield the right base product to produce a creamed dish. Adding milk, butter, salt, and pepper will create a creamy dish that will taste very much like mashed potatoes, but without the starch content and as many carbohydrates per serving as well. In like manner, these cubed and boiled sections can be used as a substitute in potato salad recipes.

Chinese winter squash is beginning to gain in popularity in the United States. While still considered a specialty item, many supermarkets are beginning to carry it along with the more familiar varieties. Conversion charts showing how to use this squash in place of other vegetables can be found in health food stores, upscale food markets, and online.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


@aviva - My mother used to bake something similar to your squash recipe only she would use zucchini instead of butternut squash.

For the filling she combined cooked ground beef, cooked rice and tomato paste with a few other herbs and spices. It tasted a lot like the filling in stuffed bell peppers.

I don't know the exact ingredients she used but I'll try to get it from her and submit it the next time I post.


@babylove - That sounds fantastic. Thank you for sharing it. I'll have to try that the next time we have a cookout. Your recipe swap is a great idea because I'm always looking for new ways to spice up our veggie dishes.

During the winter months I like to make roasted butternut squash with a sausage stuffing. You start out by baking the squash at 350 degrees for about forty minutes.

In the meantime, fry the sausage with onions, garlic and parsley. Then add two beaten eggs and eight slices of bread cubes until blended.

Now scrape out the seeds from the squash and mash down the centers to add the filling. Bake it for another fifteen minutes until it's golden brown.

It's a hearty comfort dish that my family enjoys on those cold winter nights.


I think squash is such a versatile vegetable. There are so many things you can do with it. Let's share some of our favorite squash recipes?

My husband makes a steak and squash soup with teriyaki and soy sauce that's out of this world. Normally we will grill squash and zucchini alongside the steak, then create the soup with whatever is left over. He has a culinary background so I've learned a lot of techniques from him.

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