Saturday, January 12, 2013

Stuffed Bitter Melon - Two Ways

Steamed Bitter Melon Stuffed w/ Pork
Pan-Fried Bitter Melon Stuffed w/ Pork
Bitter melon (or bitter gourd) is an acquired taste.  I used to hate them when I was a kid. My mom did manage to change my mind about them with countless experimental recipes.  Still not my favorite vegetable, but sometimes I do feel nostalgic for my mom's pork stuffed bitter melons.
Bitter is a flavor that pairs well with fatty meats, as it cuts through the greasiness.  Par-boiling the bitter melon in salt water tapers the bitterness a bit.
My mom sometimes mixes in minced shrimp with the ground pork mixture.  The steamed version allows for the juices from the pork to permeate the bitter melon.  However, the pan-fried version has that nice sear and is more fragrant.

Stuffed Bitter Melon
1 bitter melon
1/2 lb ground pork
5 large shrimps, minced (optional)
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/4 cup salt

In a medium mixing bowl, mix together corn starch, shaoxing rice wine and soy sauce.  Add ground pork (and shrimp).  Mix well.  Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator while preparing the bitter melon.
In a large pot, bring 3 inches of water and salt to boil.  Slice the bitter melon into 1/2 inch rings.  With a spoon or knife, scoop or cut out the white pith and seeds.  Par-boil the bitter melon rings for 2-3 minutes.  Remove the rings and shock in ice water.  Keep the pot of salt water at a simmer.
Stuff the pork mixture in each ring.
Steamed method - Place stuffed rings in a single layer on a dish with raised edges that is small enough to fit in the pot with the cover on.  Place steaming rack in pot.  Place dish on top of steaming rack.  Steam for 15 minutes.  Remove and serve immediately with steamed rice.
Pan-fried method - Use a frying or saute pan with a lid.  Heat up 1 tbsp of oil over medium-low heat.  Place stuffed rings in a single layer in the pan.  Pan-fry for about 3 minutes or until first side is browned.  Flip over once.  Cover and cook for 3 minutes.  Serve immediately with steamed rice.

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