As one Asian proverb goes, "Sour, sweet, bitter, pungent—all must be tasted."
Here's a recipe for bitter melon that Yuan prepared for us one day as part of a magnificent lunch.
Spicy Bitter Melon Side Dish
1 medium bitter melon
2 tablespoons cooking oil, such as olive or canola
3 2-inch long hot green chili peppers, sliced into ¼-inch pieces
1 tablespoon vinegar (or to taste)
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
- Cut the bitter melon in half. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds from the inside of the vegetable.
- Slice the bitter melon width-wise into slivers about 1/8-inch wide.
- Sprinkle liberally with salt, mix, then let the mixture sit for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Squeeze the bitter melon in your hands or using a strainer to remove the excess water (and some of the bitter flavor and salt).
- Heat the cooking oil in a wok, then add the bitter melon and chili pepper. Stir-fry for about 5 minutes until tender.
- Season with the vinegar and sugar (if using), then serve.