Saturday Spotlight: Thai Rai Kaw Tok Squash

This is the latest in a series of posts that I’ve done about my favorite varieties of fruits, vegetables and herbs we grow at Happy Acres. To see my other Spotlights, and those from other garden bloggers, visit the Variety Spotlights page.

Last year I decided to try several winter squash varieties I had never grown before. Many of them were heirloom varieties I had known about for years but had just never grown. However, one of the standout performers turned out to be a Thai squash called Rai Kaw Tok that I had never heard of before last year. It’s a variety of Cucurbita moschata squash, and as such is more resistant to the squash vine borer that makes squash growing difficult in many gardens.

Thai Rai Kaw Tok winter squash on the vine

Thai Rai Kaw Tok winter squash on the vine

I found out there’s very little information available about the Thai Rai Kaw Tok squash. I got the seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, and they say it is a “Thai market variety that is sure to become popular here”. It gets rave reviews from their customers, and I will quickly add it gets rave reviews from me and my wife as well. In fact she told me I ought to do a spotlight on it, so here it is!

harvest of Thai Rai Kaw Tok squash

harvest of Thai Rai Kaw Tok squash

It is a vining squash, and my one plant quickly grew up the metal garden fencing and proceeded to vine in all directions, setting on lots of fruit in the process. The catalog description says the fruits get to be eight pounds, but mine averaged a little over nine pounds each. The five in the above photo weighed 49 pounds. The vine gave us a total of 65 pounds of squash by the end of the season, and it was the standout producer of my 2014 garden.

a big Thai Rai Kaw Tok squash

a big Thai Rai Kaw Tok squash

The largest one maxed out our digital scale, so I had to use the old fashioned one instead. It weighed 13 lbs, 11 oz, which made it the largest squash harvested in 2014. Most of the squash wound up setting on the vines high up off the ground, and despite their weight they hung on quite nicely. The green fruits are flattened and ribbed, with white and tan spots all over the thick outer rind. That rind turns a brownish orange after a few months in storage, as you can see in the below photo taken of one in February before cutting it up and cooking it.

Rai Kaw Tok squash after turning color in storage

Rai Kaw Tok squash after turning color in storage

In the kitchen, Rai Kaw Tok has quickly become a favorite here. The thick orange flesh is dense, flavorful, and not the least bit watery. The seed cavity is fairly small, leaving lots of usable flesh as you can see in the below photo.

cut Rai KawTok squash showing interior

cut Rai KawTok squash showing interior

I like to cut it into slices and toss with a little olive oil, sea salt, and paprika. Then I spread the slices out on a pan and bake in a 425°F oven until tender.

sliced squash before baking

sliced squash before baking

The squash slices make a great side dish prepared this way, and the outer rind softens up considerably during cooking and becomes quite edible, much like the skin on a Delicata squash. I think this variety is just as visually striking after cooking as it is fresh off the vine!

cooked slices of Rai Kaw Tok squash

cooked slices of Rai Kaw Tok squash

The folks at Southern Exposure Seed Exchange had a “Squash-athon” back in 2013, and tasters described Rai Kaw Tok as “having a spicier, more complex flavor”. They also noted that it was the best yielding C. moschata type in their test gardens that year. The fruits are too large for the two of us to consume in one or two meals, so I bake up the leftover pieces to make into puree. The deep orange pureed flesh has a spicy flavor like the folks at SESE describe it, and I can (and do) eat it with a spoon!

puree from Thai Rai Kaw Tok squash

puree from Thai Rai Kaw Tok squash

The squash is keeping well in storage so far, and I have several of them left, including the big 13-pounder. In the future I plan on trying it in soups, and in things like this Thai Squash Curry recipe. This squash should work well in many recipes calling for either butternut or kabocha squash. I’ve also cooked it up in some Maple Pumpkin Custard, where it was lovely.

Maple Pumpkin Custard made with Thai squash

Maple Pumpkin Custard made with Thai squash

I hope you’ve enjoyed this Saturday Spotlight, and I’ll be back soon with another variety. Until then, Happy Growing from Happy Acres!

 

 

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12 Responses to Saturday Spotlight: Thai Rai Kaw Tok Squash

  1. Daphne says:

    I really ought to try this as I’ve been looking for another good moschata besides butternut. I love butternut, but I’d really like some more variety. My biggest issue is how long it stores. I’ll be curious to see how long yours lasts this winter. Of course you might eat it up before long. The other is that I’ve got to order from yet another catalog. If only I could find everything I need in one.

    • Dave says:

      I will try and report on how long it lasts. There’s so much left it will be difficult to use it all up, though I’m going to try.

  2. Michelle says:

    That really is a beautiful squash and very tempting. These days though I’m avoiding large squash, they take up too much room in my small garden and a lot of it tends to go to waste. What I don’t use fresh ends up in the freezer where it usually languishes until I end up tossing it out. Unfortunate but true. 🙁
    Michelle recently posted…Just Hangin’ Out and Flyin’ Around the GardenMy Profile

    • Dave says:

      That is one drawback to this squash – it is large! It will be difficult for us to use them all up, but we can also share it with friends.

  3. Margaret says:

    Wow – SVB resistant, productive, you can grow it on a trellis, stores well, it’s delicious as a savory side dish AND it’s also great as a dessert – what more could you ask?

    You are certainly doing something right – not only did you get a ton of squash but they actually weigh MORE than what the catalogue says….I’m green with envy! Had I not already ordered my seeds from Baker Creek, I would definitely be adding this one to the list…oh well. It is now firmly placed at the top of the list for next year.
    Margaret recently posted…My Garden Plans – 2015My Profile

    • Dave says:

      Well, I pretty much planted it like my other vining squash plants, except it was off by itself where it had room to run! And run it did, vining all over the place. This year I will again give it room and see what happens.

      I think it may best be used in savory dishes, though it is sweet enough to enjoy on its own without added sugar.

  4. Liz says:

    Sounds wonderful and there’s a seller on eBay Australia with seeds (a minor miracle) – something for next year. Loving that you are still posting spotlights – probably time I started doing them again.
    Liz recently posted…‘Spicezee’ – A Nectarine X PlumMy Profile

    • Dave says:

      I am so glad you had the idea to start with! I need to do more of them, but sometimes I forget to take photos when things are growing.

  5. Thomas says:

    Beautiful! I wish we liked winter squash in our household. If we did, I’d grow a bunch of them. I grew delicata this year and still haven’t touched them. Maybe it’s time to make some soup.
    Thomas recently posted…Winter Project – Making Hypertufa PlantersMy Profile

  6. Mike Yaeger says:

    I grew four of these vines and harvested two fruit per vine with the largest weighing in at about six pounds. I received my seeds from Baker Creek as well. Only half are beautifully marked like yours. Am I suffering from squash envy?….yeah, I am. Still, they grew very well for me compared to the other five varieties I grew. I’m upgrading my garden again so hopefully I can improve my yields this year. This variety is quite beautiful and uniquely delicious. I usually cube up the peeled squash and then roast them, but this one is a huge pain to process that way. Cutting between the ribs is the way to go here. They are keeping nicely just sitting on a table out in the open in a 68-degree living room. Only the Greek Sweet Reds are going to keep longer here.

    • Dave says:

      I’m thinking it would be hard to peel these squash before cooking. I was planning on cutting into slices or chunks, then cutting away the rind and cutting into chunks. I will have to experiment and see!

  7. Barbara OConnor says:

    I haven’t grown these pumpkins yet (have seed, will do) but have grown a Lao pumpkin – so vigorous, so prolific. This one had almost black skin and deep orange flesh – very beautiful.
    While I was used to waiting for pumpkins to mature, I learnt from a Lao friend that these are harvested from fist size and up. The colour wasn’t as deep, but still orange, and the young pumpkin was delicious.
    Also learned that the young shoots, stems and tendrils are also eaten – the outside ‘skin’ of the stems peels off easily leaving the stem prickle free. Might be worth investigating with your pumpkins. The shoots, etc. and slices of young pumpkin went well in stir fry.
    It might be worth experimenting with the rai kaw tok, or any pumpkin.

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