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What is Moa Gua Squash?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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Moa gua is a type of squash in the cucumber family. At first glance, it resembles a rather hairy version of the cucumber, with a long tapering shape and downy skin. It is used in the cuisine of some Asian nations, and it can be used in a variety of other dishes as well. Some Asian markets stock moa gua, and it can also be grown at home, for people who live in temperate climates. Moa gua squash seeds are available from many seed companies, especially those which focus on Asian vegetable cultivars.

Like many Asian vegetables, moa gua squash has a number of aliases resulting from transliteration confusions. It is also known as mao gua, mogwa, and moqua. Some people refer to it as hairy melon, fuzzy gourd, or hairy cucumber, in a reference to its appearance, and it is also called ho bak or bi dao in some parts of Asia.

When young, moa gua has a tender, mild flavor, but it becomes bitter with age. Both young and old forms are used; bitter versions are popular in soups, for example, while the tender young vegetable is sometimes used in sweets. In all cases, the flesh of moa gua is white to creamy in color, and the rind is speckled and green; with time, the rind also becomes quite thick, as is common with members of the gourd family.

Young moa gua squash can be used in sautes, stir fries, soups, stews, and similar dishes. Older vegetables require longer cooking times to soften, and their bitterness makes them an acquired taste. In Asia, where bitter flavors are valued as a part of a sweet, hot, salty, bitter, and sour palate, older moa gua is often relatively easy to find at markets, where it may also be called winter melon. Older vegetables also take well to canning and similar preservation techniques.

If you want to grow moa gua squash at home, you can grow it like many other members of the squash family. Start seedlings indoors around two weeks before the last frost of the spring, and plant them when the last chance of frost is over. Keep the squash seedlings well watered, and provide trellises for them to grow on to encourage the fruits to grow off the ground. Harvest moa gua squash when young for tender, versatile squash, or allow it to age into an older version, which can be kept in the root cellar over the winter or turned into preserves.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a DelightedCooking researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By SteamLouis — On Oct 26, 2013

I think that "fuzzy gourd" is the most suitable name for this vegetable. It looks more like a gourd than a squash. That makes sense though because cucumber, gourd and moa gua are all in the same family.

By ddljohn — On Oct 25, 2013

@literally45-- Yes, that sounds like a fuzzy melon or moa gua squash. Although the name are used interchangeably, they're not exactly the same. They are eaten at different times. So if you can, try to pinpoint exactly what type it is.

Fuzzy melon has a dumbbell shape and they're usually harvested when they're fairly young, while the fuzz is still intact. Moa gua has a longer shape, like a cucumber and it's harvested when it's fully grown, even though waiting too long can turn them bitter.

But fuzzy melon and moa gua loose their fuzz as they grow. So it depends on when you harvest them. You can easily peel the skin if the fuzz is intact.

I think you would be better off harvesting your squash when it's at an average size just in case it does turn bitter later. It will taste similar to a zucchini.

By literally45 — On Oct 25, 2013

My neighbor gave me some plants before she moved. I wasn't sure about what all of them were and one of them gave fruit to what looks like some kind of hairy squash. I'm guessing that it's a moa gua squash.

I'm excited and I hope it grows to full size but I'm puzzled about the fuzz on it. Will that fuzz go away later or is it always going to look like that? I don't know how I could eat something with so much fuzz on it.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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