The Hmong red cucumber is a rather deceiving vegetable. From the outside it looks like a gourd or a squash. Many Westerners here in Okinawa have come across them and not known they were looking at a cucumber in disguise!
The flesh is mild and very juicy. Perhaps more mild and juicy than the green cucumbers to which we are accustomed. The Hmong red cucumber is the same as any other cucumber you have had, aside from one difference….
The Hmong red cucumber has a fascinating history. It was cultivated by the Hmong, an ancient people from the mountain regions between China, Vietnam, Thailand and Laos. This cucumber was cultivated by the Hmong because of it’s quick growing times, resistance to drought, and its overall hardiness. The fruit was prized because of its high water content; thus it was (and is) a portable and long lasting water source.
Today you will find the Hmong red cucumber all over Asia and, interestingly, in the United States! An estimated 200,000 Hmong immigrants and their descendents live in the United States today. Many communities of Hmong who immigrated brought the seeds with them which is why the cucumber can be found in farmer’s markets throughout the U.S., and is common in the Los Angeles area.
You can find seeds to these incredible vegetables on many specialty seed websites, like this.
I hope you are able to try one of these amazing Hmong red cucumbers soon!
Shannon Vavich is a baby-wearing, homeschooling, mama of seven who is also a chef, a photographer and a freelance food writer. She follows her husband and his military career all over the world, and currently lives in Okinawa, Japan. She has a little dog named Paprika, and an Okinawan cat named Mochi. She wears red lipstick, loves rocky road ice cream and is learning how to care for orchids. She is currently writing a book on Okinawan and Japanese cuisine and cooking. More