Simmered Winter Melon with Chicken Drumettes is a delicious dish full of flavour. The texture of the semi-transparent winter melon is so delicate. It can be served as a main or a side dish. You will have a generous amount of flavoursome sauce left over, which is perfect for ramen soup!
Simmered Winter Melon with Chicken Drumettes is another dish created as a result of collecting too many drumettes after making Chicken Wing Gyōza. Not only can you use drumettes you can also use wingettes for today’s recipe, so you don’t have to force yourself to make Chicken Wing Gyōza to get only drumettes!
About Winter Melon
Winter melon is also called ash gourd/wax gourd, and ‘tōgan‘ (冬瓜) in Japanese. I suspect not many people are familiar with this Asian vegetable. My kids certainly don’t know much about winter melon because I have never cooked it for them in Australia.
Winter melon is not a winter vegetable. Its best season is summer to autumn. It is said that the name came from the fact that the winter melons harvested in season can be stored throughout winter without losing their freshness.
Although a whole winter melon keeps for a long time at room temperature in a dark place, once it is cut open, the exposed flesh does not keep well even in the fridge. Winter melons are quite large, and the shops often sell the cut in half or quarter.
If you buy a cut winter melon, you should use it in a few days if possible. Alternatively, remove the seeds and fluffy flesh, cut it into cubes with skin intact and freeze it.
Winter melon is a large, round football-shaped fruit. The colour of the skin can be greyish or greenish like that of watermelon. The size of the fruit can vary a lot. The length of the fruit can be anywhere between 15cm / 6″ to 80cm / 2.6ft.
The centre of the fruit is filled with seeds and a soft flesh, almost like cotton wool. Although they are edible, most dishes discard the seeds and soft flesh before cooking. You also need to remove the skin before cooking because it is very tough like watermelon skin.
The most edible flesh is white and looks like the white part of watermelon rind.
Texture and flavour
The texture is slightly softer than watermelon rind. It is a good source of fibre, potassium, and vitamin C. 90% of the flesh is water so you could say that winter melon is an excellent diet food.
Winter melon has a very mild, almost bland taste. It is refreshing with a slight grassy flavour. It’s like the white part of watermelon.
Winter melon is widely used in Asian and Indian cuisines. In Japanese cuisine, winter melon is mostly used in simmered dishes, soups or served with a thick sauce mixed with chopped prawns or ground meat poured over it.
When cooked, winter melon becomes semi-transparent presenting a very delicate appearance.
You can also eat winter melon without cooking it. Although I have never tried this, you can slice winter melon very thinly and mix it with other fresh salad leaves.
What’s in My Simmered Winter melon with Chicken Drumettes
I used shiro dashi to give flavour to the broth. This makes the list of ingredients shorter.
- Winter melon cut into 3-4cm / 1⅛-1½” cubes
- Shiitake mushrooms
- Chicken drumettes
- Niboshi dashi
- Shiro dashi
The addition of shiitake mushrooms makes the dish more interesting, but you don’t have to use them. Instead of shiitake, you can also use shimeji mushrooms.
If you don’t have shiro dashi, you can substitute it with a combination of soy sauce, mirin and salt. I added this in the note section of the recipe card.
I bought a quarter of a winter melon. The length of this melon was 25cm / 10″ and the diameter was around 20cm / 8″. It weighed almost 1.3kg / 2.9lb so the whole melon would have been about 7kg / 15.4lb!
To cut winter melon into cubes, it is easier to slice the quarter melon into 3-4cm / 1⅛-1½” wide slices first. Then remove the seeds and the soft flesh using a spoon. You will have a Winter melon piece that looks just like the watermelon rind after eating it. Place the winter melon piece sideways, remove the skin off by slicing the side of the skin with a knife in sections. You can get 4-5 cubes out of one slice.
How to Make Simmered Winter melon with Chicken Drumettes
Before simmering the ingredients, there is some preparation to do. Make incisions on the chicken drumettes and shear them before simmering. This will enhance the savoury flavour of the meat. Winter melon absorbs the flavour better when it is semi-cooked before simmering.
- Sear the drumettes over high heat in a shallow saucepan until both sides of the drumettes are browned.
- Add niboshi dashi and shiro dashi to the pan, bring it to a boil, and simmer.
- Microwave winter melon pieces to semi-cook them.
- Put the winter melon and mushrooms into the pan and simmer.
I placed a lid on the saucepan and left a gap to let the steam evaporate. Leave a gap for most of the time while simmering the chicken. Too much or too little condensation of the sauce makes it too salty or bland respectively. The speed of evaporation varies depending on your kitchen gadget, so you may need to adjust the duration of simmering with and without the lid.
I shared this dish with some of my family members and I had very good feedback from them. The flavour of the sauce is excellent. You can keep Simmered Winter Melon with Drumette in the fridge for a couple of days.
You will pour a small amount of simmering sauce over the drumettes when serving the dish, but you will have quite a lot of sauce left in the pan. I used it as a ramen broth. It was delicious!
Simmered Winter Melon with Chicken Drumettes is a delicious dish full of flavour. The texture of the semi-transparent winter melon is so delicate. It can be served as a main or a side dish.
Don't forget to see the section 'MEAL IDEAS' below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and this recipe that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.
- 400g / 0.9lb winter melon seeds and skin removed (note 1)
- 8 drumettes (about 570g / 1.3lb, note 2)
- 4 shiitake mushrooms stem removed (about 60g / 2.1oz)
- 1 tbsp oil
Cut winter melon into 3-4cm / 1⅛-1½" cubes (note 5).
Place winter melon pieces on a microwave-safe plate, skin side down, and loosely cover with cling wrap. Microwave for 4 minutes.
Make a small incision along the bone on each drumette.
Heat oil in a shallow saucepan over high heat. Put the drumettes into the pan and brown both sides of the chicken pieces.
Add the Simmering Sauce ingredients, put the lid on and bring it to a boil.
Shift the lid slightly to make a small opening to let the steam go out, reduce the heat to simmer and cook for 20 minutes.
Add winter melon pieces and mushrooms to the pan, turn the heat up to bring it to a boil.
Reduce the heat to simmer for 5 minutes with the lid on. Then remove the lid and simmer for another 5 minutes. Turn the heat off.
Transfer the chicken, winter melon and shiitake mushrooms to serving bowls, clustering each ingredient together. Pour some sauce over it and serve while hot (note 6).
1. By removing the skin and seeds, you will lose 25-30% of the total weight of the winter melon depending on how thin/thick you trimmed when removing the skin. My winter melon with seeds and skin on was 550g / 1.2lb.
2. I used drumettes because I had so many of them left over after making Chicken Wing Gyōza so many times. But you can also use chicken wingettes.
3. Niboshi dashi adds a distinctive dried anchovy flavour to the simmering sauce and makes it tastier in my view. Niboshi dashi powder is also available at Japanese grocery stores. If you prefer, you can use awase dashi.
4. I used store-bought shiro dashi because it’s handy and easy to use but you can make it at home.
If you don’t have shiro dashi, substitute with 5 tsp light soy + 2 tbsp mirin + ½ tsp salt and use a slightly stronger niboshi dashi (by adding a couple of extra dried anchovies when making niboshi dashi).
5. The section, What's In My Simmered Winter Melon with Drumettes shows you how to remove the seeds, peel the skin and cut the winter melon into cubes.
I do preparation of winter melon while simmering the drumettes.
6. You will find that there is quite a bit of sauce left over even after serving some of it. This sauce is very tasty. You can use it as a ramen broth without anything added to it.
7. Nutrition per serving as a main. it is assumed that 50% of the simmering sauce is consumed.
serving: 678g calories: 532kcal fat: 34g (52%) saturated fat: 7.7g (39%) trans fat: 0g polyunsaturated fat: 7g monounsaturated fat: 16g cholesterol: 166mg (56%%) sodium: 1186mg (48%) potassium: 817mg (23%) carbohydrates: 15g (4%) dietary fibre: 7.3g (31%) sugar: 6.2g protein: 36.1g vitamin a: 0% vitamin c: 44% calcium: 5% iron: 12%