Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wax Gourd 冬瓜, Straw Mushrooms & Pork Soup

Squashes are in season now. In my previous post on the members of the melon (gwâa - ) family I said that I would write a post on wax gourd and would give the recipe of the soup I love to make with it.
Sliced wax gourd/winter melon
Wax gourd is also called winter melon or “dûng-gwâa” (冬瓜- winter-melon/gourd) in Cantonese. However, a wax gourd/winter melon is not a winter squash.

Winter squash (in English) is called southern gourd (nàahm-gwâa - 南瓜) or foreign squash (fâan-gwâa - 番瓜) in Cantonese. Butternut squash is one of the most popular winter squashes.

Wax gourd is oblong, can weigh up to 40kg and has a wax coated dark green skin. Its white pulp is used in soups or stews. The pulp can also be dried and made into sweets. Candied wax gourd are either enjoyed as a snack during the Chinese New Year festivities or mashed and mixed with sesame seeds (and sometimes almond paste) to make the filling of the famous Wife’s cake (lóuh-pòh-béng - 老婆餅–which means “sweetheart-cake”.)

Wax gourd is said to have cooling effects so making soup with it during the summer is good for our body. Do I eat soup in summer? Yes I do and love it! Cantonese people love soups and “drink” soups all year round. After so many years living in Hong Kong I have become used to and I don’t mind “drinking” soup even in the hottest days of the year.

If you live in Hong Kong I am quite sure you have tried or heard of “dung-gwâa-jûng” (winter-melon/gourd-cup)冬瓜盅 the famous double-steamed soup served in a fancy scalloped-edge wax gourd.  But this is not the recipe I am going to give you. This soup is too difficult to make and I have never attempted to try it. I’d rather leave that to the experts and enjoy this soup at restaurants. ;).

The recipe below is easy to make and does not take as long as the “slow-boiled” soups to cook – which is an important point considering the extreme heat in the kitchen in July and August. 

Wax gourd, straw mushrooms & pork soup

  • 1 catty (~600 g) wax gourd 冬瓜
  • ¼ catty sliced lean pork
  • 10 fresh straw mushrooms (~ ¼ catty) {chóu-gû - 草菇}
  • ~6 rice bowls of water
  • 2 slices ginger
  • Salt (optional)

  1. Wash the straw mushrooms, make a cross at the top and blanch for 3 minutes. Rinse and set aside.
  2. Peel the wax gourd (remove seeds) and cut it into thick pieces.
  3. Put wax melon, mushrooms and ginger in a large pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil.
  4. Add pork slices. When the water boils again reduce heat and cook for about 30 minutes.
  5. Add salt (optional)

My husband and I love this soup that helps cool our body down. We like the combination of wax gourd and fresh straw mushrooms. The latter’s’ strong taste complements the delicate flavour of the former.

You might like to try adding lotus seeds or fresh lily bulbs. And for a richer and deeper meat flavour you can replace lean pork with spareribs.

Note: If you want to know more about 冬瓜盅read the article posted on You will also find nice photos of “wax gourd bowl/cup”. 


  1. Great blog and love the recipes shared with added informative information. Keep up with the good work. Enjoy your blog!

    1. Thanks Andreano! I'm glad you find the information useful and enjoy reading my blog. Cheers