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