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My friend Angela gave some of stuffed bitter melon and it was very tasty. Now bitter melon is still in season so I decide to try making this dish. The secret is the meat stuffing– it’s not ordinary ground pork, I added dried shrimp and cooked glutinous rice to the ground pork, which adds more flavor and texture. If you dare to eat bitter melon, try this recipe.

Stuffed Bitter Melon 苦瓜镶肉

Stuffed Bitter Melon 苦瓜镶肉

Stuffed Bitter Melon Recipe (makes 15-20 pieces)

Ingredients:
3 small/slimmer bitter melon (about size of 2 inches wide, 9 inches long)

stuffing:
1/2 lb ground pork

seasoning for ground pork:
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
1/2 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp tapioca starch
2-3 tbsp water

2 tbsp dried shrimps– soaked with 2 tbsp of water for 5 minutes, then finely chopped
2 tbsp cooked glutinous rice– add some water to loose up the rice, then rinse out water– see note below
1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
2 cloves garlic– finely chopped

more tapioca starch for coating the inside of melon ring

Seasoning for the sause:
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 tsp chicken bouillon powder
1/2 tbsp sugar
water (enough to cover half the height of the melon rings)

Method:

  1. Wash bitter melons and remove both tips. Cut into 1 inch size rings. Remove the core. Put the melon rings in a big bowl and sprinkle about 1 tbsp of salt. Toss to coat well (this is to draw out the bitter juice so it will be less bitter). Set aside for 15 minutes. Rinse 2-3 times. Pat dry with a paper towel.
  2. Prepare stuffing: season ground pork with ground pork seasoning. Then add in dried shrimps, glutinous rice, ginger and garlic. Stir in a circular motion several times until the mixture blend well and looks sticky.
  3. Coat inner rings with tapioca starch, then stuff ground pork into the ring with a butter knife, smooth the surface (do not over stuff as the stuffing will expand during cooking).
  4. Heat up a frying pan with a 2 tbsp oil. Fry melon rings on high heat, meat side down, until both side are browned. Be sure to place the rings in a single layer, fry in batches if necessary.
  5. Add enough water to cover half the height of the rings, and all other sauce seasoning. Bring to a boil, then continue cooking on medium high heat, until the stuffing is cooked through and melon softens (turning over once or twice during cooking). At this point the sauce should be reduced and thickened.
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This is just a variation of my corn and rib soup. The whole family has been having lots of grilled and fried foods lately. I want to make some bitter melon soup for the family to tone down the heaty side, but knowing everyone of them can’t take the bitterness, I sneaked in with some sweet corns that are in season now. And it worked. There is a slightest bitterness in the soup but none of them tasted it. In fact my oldest son Alexander, who is expected to be the first one on the rejecting list, asked for second serving of the soup.

Corn, Bitter Melon & Rib Soup 玉米苦瓜排骨汤

Corn, Bitter Melon & Rib Soup 玉米苦瓜排骨汤

Corn, Bitter Melon & Rib Soup 玉米苦瓜排骨汤

Ingredients:
1.5 lbs pork spare rib — cut into chunks
2 ears of corns — cut into 8 pieces
1 small bitter melon– remove the core, cut into 2 inch length chunks
1 can reduced sodium chicken broth
10 cups water
salt to taste

Method:

  1. Add 1 tsp of salt to cut bitter melon. Add a little water and use you hand to gently squeeze the melon, so it will draw out some bitter liquid. Let it sit for 10 minutes. Wash and rinse a couple of times. Drain.
  2. Blanch ribs in boiling water for a minutes to remove impurities. Rinse and drain.
  3. In a deep pot boil water and chicken broth over high heat. Add in blanched ribs. Cover and boil on high heat for 10 minutes. Turn down to medium heat and boil for 1 hour.
  4. Add in corn and bitter melon. Cover and continue cooking on medium heat for another 1- 1.5 hours. Add more water if the liquid is low. Add salt to taste. If mild bitterness is preferred, remove bitter melon from the soup ahead of time once they are tender.

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Stir Fry Bitter Guard with Shrimps

Stir Fry Bitter Melon with Shrimps

Growing up, I always hate bitter melon and don’t understand why people would eat it. But since some not so bad bitter melon tasting last year, I start to accept this vegetable– what can I say with me and the family eating lots of “heaty” food all the time, I need the “ying” of this vegetable to cool down :). This summer I pretty much had a bitter melon dish once a week– what a big change to my diet! Since Richard and Alexander don’t take bitter melon, I only cook it for lunch. When Ethan first saw me eating bitter melon, he wanted some too and so I gave him a bite. Surprisingly, he didn’t spit it out– he ate it followed with a drink of water. Since then he will want a bite or two of bitter melon every time I cook it.

One of the popular way to cook bitter melon is using fermented black bean. My friend Amy suggested using fish sauce and shrimp. If you have fish sauce in your pantry, do give it a try. When I want shrimp in the dish, I would stir fry with fish sauce, or add an egg and make it scrambled egg style. If it’s just stir frying bitter melon alone, I would use fermented black bean. My mom cook it with tomatoes and thus adds tangy flavor to the dish– quite refreshing taste. Hochiak! Delicious Asian Food have it fried with salted egg— hmmm… sounds delicious. I would have to try it next time.

Stir Fry Bitter Melon with Shrimps Recipe

Ingredients:
1 medium bitter melon–cut in 1/2 vertically, discard seeds and inner spongy stuff with a spoon, then thin slice
8-10 small shrimps– shelled and deveined, lightly seasoned with salt
2 cloves garlic– finely chopped
few drops of fish sauce
1/2 to 1 cup hot water
salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Put sliced bitter melon in a bowl and sprinkle with some salt and little water. Rub salt into bitter melon. Let it sit for a while to draw out bitter juice. Rinse under water 2 times. Drain.
  2. Heat wok on high heat. Add 1 tbsp oil and quick saute shrimps until just cooked. Dish out.
  3. Add 1 tbsp oil to  the hot wok. Stir fry garlic until aromatic, add bitter melon and keep stirring. Add enough hot water, little at a time, and cook bitter melon until tender. Add fish sauce, salt and pepper and stir well. Return shrimps to wok. Quick stir and dish out.

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