Opo squash is a member of the squash family which appears to be native to Africa, where it is widely used in regional cuisines. In addition to appearing in Africa, the this squash is also grown in the tropics of Southeast Asia, especially in India, and in parts of Europe. Depending on its age at harvest, it can range from mild to bitter in flavor, and it may be used in a number of ways. This vegetable also has a wide number of aliases, including: long gourd, Tasmania Bean, Peh Poh, Long Squash, yugao, cucuzza, and snake gourd.
It can sometimes be difficult to obtain opo squash, depending on where one lives. Ethnic markets are usually a good source, along with greengrocers who specialize in unusual fruits and vegetables. If you live in a warm zone of the world, it is generally easier to find opo squash, and you can also grow it yourself; in cooler regions, you may need to rely on frozen versions or vegetables which are shipped across great distances.
In appearance, the opo squash is pale green to yellow, with a smooth skin which thickens with age. When cut open, the squash reveals firm white flesh mottled with seeds. Young squashes are very tender with a mild flavor almost like that of zucchini; as it matures, it grows more woody, eventually turning into a gourd which can be hollowed out and used for storage.
Many people like to use opo squash in stews, soups, and curries. It can also be fried, stuffed, or integrated into dips and spreads, and very young squash may be eaten raw. The mild flavor of young squash pairs well with an assortment of ingredients, from Italian pastas to Indonesian curries, and the food can help to bulk out a dish and absorb flavor. The flowers are also edible, in the event that you can obtain them.
If you want to grow this squash, you will need a warm, sunny spot in the garden out of the wind. Prepare the soil by working it well with abundant compost and mulch in the spring, and plant seedlings after the last chance of frost has passed; you can start seedlings in your home or greenhouse, and sometimes they are obtainable from a garden store. Stake the squash plants as they grow to provide support, and harvest the squash when young for the most tender, delicate flavor. If you allow the opo squash to keep growing, it can get quite large, and it will become rather a novelty in the garden, although it will no longer be edible.