Korean melon season begins in mid winter.
The Korean melon is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family and scientifically classified as Cucumis melo L. variety makuwa. The Korean melon is also known as Chameh melon, Golden melon, Oriental melon and Japanese cantaloupe. As a result of their ideal melon growing climate, Seongju Country in the North Gyeongsang Province is the predominate cultivator of Korean melon in Korea. It is also home to the Korean Melon Ecology Center, an exhibition space that showcases the history and cultivation of the Korean melon.
The Korean melon is oval shaped with deep evenly spaced white linear sutures running lengthwise along its yellow rind. Its translucent white flesh bears a trio of seed cavities that have a highly concentrated sweetness. When ripe the melon’s flesh will have a subtly sweet flavor similar to that of a pear or honeydew melon. Its aroma is delicate and clean. Though commonly served peeled the melon is known to be completely edible as its skin is very thin and its seeds are petite. It is highly perishable and is recommended to be eaten within one week of harvest.
Korean melons are best served chilled, with the yellow rind peeled off, and the sweet seeds and pith intact. Chop and add to sweet or savory salads, serve atop desserts or with yogurt as a breakfast item. Pureed it can be used to make smoothies, ice cream or other frozen desserts. Use under ripe Korean melon to make quick pickles or kimchee. Korean melon pairs well with cucumber, mint, ginger, citrus, berries, lychee, shrimp, coconut milk, feta cheese and chili powder. Once cut, refrigerate in a plastic bag or sealed container and consume within two to three days.
In China the Korean melon is known as Huangjingua or Tian Gua, in Japan as Makuwa, in Korea as Chamoe, in France as Cantaloup Du Japon and in Vietnam as Dura Gan. In Korea the melon is made into a pickle known as chamoe jangajji.
Korean melons are suspected to have originated in India then later made their way to China via the Silk Road. It is also thought that some varieties may have been a result of wild melons growing in ancient China. The Korean melon plant is drought tolerant providing it is grown in moisture retentive soils.