Sunday, September 26, 2010

Better Bites with a Bit of Bitter Melon

Bitter melon—that vegetable that resembles a bumpy cucumber you sometimes see in Asian markets—is somewhat of an acquired taste, even in the East. Yes, it is bitter, but sometimes a little bitter balances the palate—and harmonizes your body, according to Chinese medicine. In the language of traditional Chinese medicine, bitter melon affects the Stomach, Heart, and Liver channels, where it clears Heat and addresses thirst from Summer Heat or warm diseases.

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)

  1. Cut the bitter melon in half. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds from the inside of the vegetable.

  2. Slice the bitter melon width-wise into slivers about 1/8-inch wide.

  3. Sprinkle liberally with salt, mix, then let the mixture sit for 10 to 15 minutes.

  4. Squeeze the bitter melon in your hands or using a strainer to remove the excess water (and some of the bitter flavor and salt).

  5. Heat the cooking oil in a wok, then add the bitter melon and chili pepper. Stir-fry for about 5 minutes until tender.

  6. Season with the vinegar and sugar (if using), then serve.

1 comment:

  1. Bitter melon is an acquired taste. I love bitter melon! This is a simple recipe. Have you tried deep frying them with curry powder season batter?