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Wild about Bitter Melon! Do you cook with it?


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I've loved bitter melon for years, mostly in Chinese dishes, like beef with bitter melon and black bean sauce.

In Thailand, two common dishes are bitter melon w/ scrambled eggs and in soup usually stuffed w/ minced pork.

For some reason I had thought actually cooking with bitter melon was beyond my scope but this year I started to use it and finding it actually super easy to work with.

So far I use it in dishes like this:

Thai style w/ eggs but I add some sliced pepper ham or chicken to make it a main course

W/ Chinese XO sauce, tofu, and again sliced pepper ham or chicken

W/ my homemade black bean/garlic sauce with sliced chicken and sometimes tofu (stir fry ginger first)

W/ Singapore Belacan sauce (stopped doing that)

W/ Chinese Curry sauce (made with curry powder, Shanghai chili paste, soy sauce, and rice wine)

I actually usually add Thai rice noodles to these dishes, but you could also do with rice separate.

My favorite by far is the black bean sauce.

Do you cook with bitter melon?

If so, what dishes?

I've looked at some Indian recipes but they look too complex.

I've been using the more Chinese style bitter melon, as in the first picture, not the smaller and even more bitter Indian kind, but I like the taste of that too!

Both kinds are easy to find in Thai markets.

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Edited by Jingthing
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I like it stuffed with minced pork. There is also a smaller one that has the same outside appearance of the long ones, it's about the size and shape of a mango. It's sweeter and I usually use it when I stuff them. Looked for a picture and name but can;t find right now.

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I think the the gourd that I am talking about is called a "balsam pear". The skin has the same texture as the large bitter gourd, but they are about the size and shape of a large pear and are sweeter than the large ones. I stuff and cook them whole. Thy cost more/kilo than the large ones.

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An ex from Sri Lanka used to cook it for me thinly sliced, deep fried and served with crispy fried garlic and chillies. Very different from the usual boiled/steamed/stir fried dishes and rather tasty.

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I usually cook it with 1/4 inch river gravel. When the gravel is cooked I discard the melon and eat the gravel.

When you eat it do you use gray or brown gravy, British style?

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I usually cook it with 1/4 inch river gravel. When the gravel is cooked I discard the melon and eat the gravel.

It might be one of those love it or hate it kinds of foods.

I liked it from the first bite, same as durian and Thai stinky beans!

For some it is of course too bitter, but there are ways to cut the bitterness:

Coat in salt, sit, then rinse

OR

Parboil, put the slices into boiling water and remove when the boiling starts again

Sometimes I parboil but I LIKE the bitter taste.

Weirdly the flavor really varies from fruit to fruit so it's sometimes hard to know whether to parboil or not.

Bitter melon is used in Asian cooking, in different parts of Asia, but I wonder why chefs in other parts of the world haven't started to use it creatively. I can imagine it as a side dish with the right seasoning to an Argentinian steak even.

Edited by Jingthing
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There are flavors I hated when I moved to Asia in 1999 and now I love them. Acquired tastes.

For some reason, bitter melon isn't one of them. Still hate it. But I can now chew it instead of swallowing it whole. Maybe another 10 years and I'll like it.

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There are flavors I hated when I moved to Asia in 1999 and now I love them. Acquired tastes.

For some reason, bitter melon isn't one of them. Still hate it. But I can now chew it instead of swallowing it whole. Maybe another 10 years and I'll like it.

Probably not.

I have noticed often Asian people don't think westerners will like it.

I am thrilled that I know how to cook it myself now as where I live I'm just not really into the Thai egg version, or their pork soup version, and the one Chinese place I know that does it doesn't do it every well (and not cheap either).

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I love the stuff - I do think it's one of the few wonder foods that more and more will eat.

http://www.diabetes.co.uk/natural-therapies/bitter-melon.html

I don't think I've had it with black bean sauce- interesting combo.

I usually slice it, put sea salt on the pieces for an hour to make it less bitter then rinse and cook with eggs- At home we usually eat it once a week.

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