Friday, January 7, 2011

Don't be so Bitter

I don't know how many times I've been to the markets and walked past this little critter, always intrigued, always fascinated. I don't know why this trip to the Footscray market was any different? Yes I do...I've started a Blog and now I'm giving myself a bit more of a kick up the arse to try new things (even more so when I was in my cheffing days). So without further ado...may I present....

The Bitter Melon
(Momordica charantia, called bitter melon or bitter gourd)

Now I know you're sitting there going...well Der! But I was quite excited, this is one cool looking fruit.
So now all I had to do was find a recipe,  a quick Google and Voila!!!


1) Soak Shitake mushrooms in boiling water until hydrated (roughly 25mins)
2) Slice your bitter melon into 1 inch thick slices
3) Either scoop out the seeds with a spoon or very carefully use a small paring knife to cut out.
4) Blanch the bitter melon in boiling water for 2 minutes and then refresh in a bowl of ice cold water ( I would salt my boiling water, i'll explain why later)

Make up you stuffing, I used Pork mince and green prawns, add your chopped mushrooms, light soy, pepper, rice wine and cornflour. Mix well, then fill your melons (be sure to overfill the melons as the stuffing will shrink during the cooking process)


Place stuffed melons in a steamer and steam away for 15 - 20 mins. Start your sauce in either a wok or large flat pan, place the stuffed melons in the sauce and simmer for an extra couple of minutes

Serve with rice and topped with spring onions. For full Recipe please see below.

Now for the funny part of this post.....
 I cooked this dish with absolute confidence that is was gonna be an absolute cracker, great ingredients and it smelled great!  The only problem is...I now realise I really really dont like Bitter Melon...yuk!  When someone many moons ago gave this pimply green vegetable a name...They weren't kidding!!

And now you're wondering why the hell did I even bother posting this and for my first recipe post...? Well..the truth is this blog is a cooking journey and I must post the bad as well as the good.

On the bright side though (Yes I do believe there is one)  My very clever partner Jake suggested  that instead of using Bitter Melon, we use ZUCCHINI!!!! Brilliant! My boy is a genius! Why didn't I think of that?

So if you do enjoy Bitter Melon by all means go ahead it is a great tasting dish, If It's not really your thing, and I do sympathise, give Zucchini or even Cucumber a go. I know I will, and make sure i'll let you know how I go.

Stuffed Bitter Melon

For Stuffing
  • Large pinch of white pepper
  • 3 shiitake mushrooms, re-hydrated and chopped finely
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • 4 tsp light soy sauce
  • 1 bitter melon ( or Zucchini or Cucumber )
  • 450 grams minced pork, or half pork half raw prawn
  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
For Sauce
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 spring onions, sliced on the diagonal
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp cornflour, slaked
  • 250 ml chicken stock
  • 2½ tbsp fermented black beans, chopped and mashed
  • 1 inch of ginger, chopped finely

Add prawns or pork, Shaoxing wine, shiitake mushrooms, cornflour, white pepper and soy sauce to a bowl and mix well. Now slice the melon into 1 inch slices, remove the seeded spongy part. Once you are done with this, blanch the melon slices in salted water and refresh. When done, stuff the slices with pork mixture, stuff as much as possible as the stuffing will shrink. Steam the stuffed melons for about 15-20 minutes, in two batches. Now keep that aside and heat up a wok. When it is properly heated, add vegetable oil to it, swirl it around. Now add garlic and ginger, mix until light browned and then add stock, black beans and sugar. Mix well and add the melon rings and simmer for about 2 minutes. After 2 minutes, take out Melons and place on your serving plate. Now to your sauce add slaked cornflour and simmer further, until thickened. Season with spring onions and serve with rice