Quick Winter Melon Recipe
Winter melon is a common ingredient in many Asian soups and stews. In this quick recipe, frozen clams are used to create a delicious Korean-flavored side dish or rice bowl.
Growing up in Korea, I remember my mother often carried a very large and heavy green melon home from the local street market. Returning home, she would proclaim that tonight’s dinner would be something with the winter melon. That usually meant a stir-fried winter melon dish with clams, mussels, or sometimes shrimp.
Then one of my sisters would respond like, “eewww!” because she hated anything made with winter melon. I couldn’t understand why she hated because I LOVED it. It has a tender and soft texture and is almost sweet to the taste. And it pairs so well with seafood. I could easily “empty out a bowl of rice” (i.e., eat a whole bowl of rice) with it and a little bit of kimchi on the side.
My mother’s winter melon recipe is mildly flavored and simple to prepare, but so delicious. Although “winter” is in the name of the melon, she actually made this dish during the hot summer.
If you don’t have access to winter melon or fresh/frozen clams, my radish with clams recipe uses canned chopped clams. It is similar in taste and texture to this recipe.
What is Winter Melon?
Winter melon is a large green fruit that grows on trailing vines. As it matures, the fruit develops a waxy white surface, so some people call it wax gourd or ash gourd due to its ashy appearance. Contrary to its name, winter melon grows during the summer and is harvested in late summer through early fall. This mild-tasting fruit is often compared to cucumber for its refreshing taste. Although winter melon grows as a fruit, it is cooked as a vegetable in Asia, most commonly in Korean, Chinese, and Indian kitchens.
The Korean word for winter melon is “bak (박)”. The dish made with winter melon is often called “bak namul (박나물)”. Try enjoying this winter melon with clams as a rice bowl with a little bit of kimchi as a quick one-dish meal. Or serve it as a side dish to accompany any main course. It is one of my favorite Korean side dish recipes.
Ingredients list and substitutes
- Winter melon – can also use Korean radish or the white rind of watermelon
- Fresh or frozen clam – if not available, use canned clam or other seafood of your choice
- Perilla oil – use sesame oil if not available
- Korean tuna sauce – or fish sauce
- Salted shrimp – or use dried shrimp
- Ginger puree
- Green onion
How to make Winter Melon with Clam
Step 1: Remove the melon’s green skin and discard seeds. Slice the melon thinly to bite size pieces.
Step 2: If using frozen clam, thaw and drain. Roughly chop them and set aside.
Step 3: Heat oil and perilla oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add garlic and ginger and stir-fry until fragrant. Add the melon slices and salt, cook until tender stirring occasionally, about 2-3 minutes.
Step 4: Add clams (roughly chopped), Korean tuna sauce, salted shrimp, and toss. Taste and season with more salt according to your taste.
Step 5: Add green onion, sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds, and heat through. Serve warm or at room temperature with rice as a rice bowl or serve as a side dish to any main course.
Quick Winter Melon Recipe
- 2 1/4 lb winter melon
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 tbsp perilla oil or sesame oil
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1/2 tsp grated ginger
- 2 pinches salt
- 1/3 lb clam meat, fresh or frozen (thawed), roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp Korean tuna sauce
- 1 tsp Korean salted shrimp
- 2 green onion, finely chopped
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
- Remove the melon’s green skin and discard seeds. Slice the melon thinly to bite size pieces.
- Heat oil and perilla oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add garlic and ginger and stir-fry until fragrant. Add the melon slices and salt, cook until tender stirring occasionally, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add clams, Korean tuna sauce, salted shrimp, and toss. Taste and season with more salt according to your taste.
- Add green onion, sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds, and heat through. Serve warm or at room temperature with rice as a rice bowl or serve as a side dish to any main course.
What a fun dish! And rather unusual too. Thanks for such an interesting recipe. And Happy New Year!
Such a comforting warming dish! Definitely needed for all the cold weather we’re having!