Also known as the chamoe melon or oriental melon, Korean melon is a type of muskmelon that is heralded as a sure sign of summer in Eastern Asia – and a go-to refreshing treat on hot sunny days. While they aren't as common in the West, everyone is drawn to their unique texture and flavor, which many compare to a blend of cantaloupe, watermelon and cucumber.
What Is a Korean Melon?
Oblong in shape and small enough to fit into your palm, the Korean melon is bright yellow with white seams running lengthwise from its stem down. A long-time favorite food on the Korean peninsula, historians believe that it may have been originally cultivated in India and transported along the Silk Road to places like China, Korea and Japan.
What Does a Korean Melon Taste Like?
The entire Korean melon is edible, though many don't choose to consume the fruit in its entirety.
The flesh of a Korean melon is yellow-white in color and similar in flavor to a blend of honeydew, cantaloupe, watermelon and cucumber – less sweet and crisper than many other muskmelons, with the water content of a watermelon.
The seeds of the Korean melon are edible, and they are surrounded by the sweetest part of the melon. Some prefer to leave in the seeds when slicing the melon, while others scoop them out.
The skin of the Korean melon is thinner and less tough than that of many other melons, but it is bitter in taste. Most people remove the skin, though it is, in theory, edible.
Health Benefits of the Korean Melon
Free of fat, cholesterol and sodium, the Korean melon is a great dietary choice along with its muskmelon relatives. Bursting with Vitamin C, folate and fiber, it's a good source of antioxidants and nutrients as well as beneficial to your digestive system.
Korean melons are also about 90 percent water, making them a great way to stay hydrated, especially during summer scorchers.
Picking a Good Korean Melon to Eat
The peak season for Korean melons begins in late spring and goes through the summer months. When you're at the supermarket, look for heavy, brightly colored Korean melons with no brown spots or soft spots. The skin should be firm, with just a little give, while the skin should be dull and waxy.
The Shelf Life of a Korean Melon
A ripe, uncut Korean melon will last about five days on your countertop at room temperature and a few days longer than that in the crisper in your refrigerator. Sliced Korean melon will last for a few hours at room temperature and for two to three days covered and refrigerated.
How to Eat Korean Melon
The most popular way to prepare Korean melon is sliced or diced as you would a cantaloupe or honeydew melon.
- Slice off the top and bottom of the melon.
- Peel the skin from the melon with a large paring knife or vegetable peeler.
- After the skin has been fully removed, cut the melon in half lengthwise. At this point, you can either leave the seeds as they are or scoop them out, depending on your preference.
- Cut the melon lengthwise into slices. If you're using them in a fruit salad or want smaller pieces, you may cube the slices into bite-sized pieces.
A Few Ways to Prepare Korean Melon
Like watermelon, Korean melon is often enjoyed in slices at summer events and outings. But unlike watermelon, one person can consume an entire Korean melon in a single sitting.
Korean melons are also delicious additions to green salads or fruit salads or wrapped in prosciutto and served as an appetizer. Much like their distant cousin, the cucumber, they make great pickles as well.
Sarah Aswell is a freelance writer living in Montana.