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!
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.
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.
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. 🙁
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
I got seeds from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and the two seeds I planted are BOOMING. They’ve spread 40 feet in diameter between the two. They look so heavy on the fence, and are STILL setting new fruit, even though it’s mid September. I generally harvest squash when the leaves start to turn yellow and die, but they’re not showing any sign of that yet, even though the butter nuts are… should I wait to harvest the largest ones till then, or do you think I oughta pick those now? I’m excited if you can’t tell!
I don’t think there’s any rush to pick the squash. These should start to turn color a bit, and the rinds will be too tough to penetrate with your fingernail. As long as you bring them in before a frost/freeze they should be ok on the vine.
I was just wondering how long the vines get and here is Peggy, who gave me the seeds, answering that question in the comments! Thanks, y’all!
Dave is it possible to buy a few seeds?I live in uk willing to pay postage .thanks
Sorry, but I do not have any seeds for this.
Lalita – You might contact Southern Seed Exposure here in the US. They have both the Thai Rai Kaw Tok and Thai Kang Kob squash (listed under ‘pumpkins’). I don’t know if they ship to the UK but never hurts to ask.
I will have some seeds when I dig into my next Thai Rai Kaw Tok. I would gladly share seed either. Post here if you can’t get seed from Southern Seed Exposure and I will post my e-mail.
Hi Mary. I was wondering if you could share seeds? Thank you.
Nathan sorry to respond so late, got busy and forgot to check here..
I would be happy to send you some seeds. Shoot me an e-mail at:
catechumenes at gmail.com
Note I did not use the @ sign in order to avoid spam 😉