Braised Stuffed Bitter Melon (炆釀苦瓜)

Recently a reader recommended a book called “The China Study” which I found very interesting. Based on the studies done in rural China, The book draws correlations between long term health benefits and low protein diet.

It’s amazing to see how the causes of many chronic diseases can be linked to heavy animal protein assumption. On the other hand the book also discusses the benefits of moderate meat diet and vegetarian diet, something similar to the Chinese food medicine philosophy.

When talking about Food medicine, the first thing comes to my mind is a super vegetable called Chinese bitter melon.

Bitter melon is best known for being effective in treating and preventing diabetes. Accordingly to studies, bitter melon helps to enable the uptake of glucose, and hence, indirectly helps in reducing the level of glucose from the blood. Bitter melon also helps in improving insulin production and glucose tolerance of the body, and hence, it can be included in a diabetic diet.

In Chinese culture, Bitter melon also possesses the “cooling” or “Yin” property that’s much needed during this hot summer. This property is one of the holistic perspectives in Chinese medicine and for generations it has been considered an effective way to cool the body or to counter balance the “warmth” from other foods.

As the name suggested, bitter melon tastes very bitter. Some people like it especially if they grew up eating it. Others hate it to the bone.

The truth is better melon has an acquired taste and it can be quite tasty – if cooked properly. That is to balance the bitterness with spices and sauces.

One of my favorite bitter melon dishes is called braised stuffed bitter melon. The use of pork (moderate amount), Chinese black bean, and a savory sauce is a proven recipe to contrast the bitterness of the melon.

Give it a shot. Who knows you might end up loving it!

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Braised Stuffed Bitter Melon – Ingredients

1lb Bitter melon
½ lb ground pork
3 Shiitake mushroom, soaked to soft

Meat Marinade
1 tsp Soy sauce
½ tsp Salt and pepper
1 tsp cooking wine
1 tbsp starch
½ Sesame oil

Braising Sauce
1tsp Chinese black bean
2 clove Garlic, minced
1 Fresh chilli, sliced
2 tbsp Oyster sauce
1 tsp dark Soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 cup stock or water
½ tsp Sesame oil
1 tbsp Starch, dissolved in 1 tbsp of water
Salt and pepper to taste

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Braised Stuffed Bitter Melon – Step By Step

1. Cut the bitter melon cross-wise into 1 inch thick pieces. Blanch in boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain.

2. Combine the ground pork with 2 minced shiitake mushroom. Mix with pork marinade and let it marinate for 15 minutes.

3. Use a small spoon to carve out the seeds and some soft flesh in the middle of the melon.

4. Stuff the melon with meat stuffing until it forms a small dome.

5. Over low heat, pan-fry the stuffed bitter melon in some cooking oil until the bottom part is browned. About 3 minutes

6. In a wok, fry the black bean, sliced chilli, and garlic. Add the stock or water, dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, pepper. Bring the sauce to boil.

7. Add the pan-fried melon and I sliced shiitake mushroom. Braise it in low heat with lid on until translucent. Add sesame oil and starch to thicken the sauce. Add salty if necessary.

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If you believe in Chinese food medicine, this will be one of the best medicine you’ll have!

23 comments

  1. Pingback: Stuffed Bitter Melon | Choosy Gourmand

  2. great recipe…just like mother’s …would suggest adding some fresh shrimp and water chestnuts….

  3. Pingback: New Years impromptu Chinese dinner | Adventures of Bamboo Girl

  4. Pingback: Stuffed Bitter Melon | The Choosy Gourmand

  5. Hullo!! Thank you kindly for the recipe!! I am writing from the caribbean….we get bitter melon here, many of us call it carilla. I really wanted to try the recipe, but didn’t have the exact ingredients, so i changed it up a bit to use what I had in the house. I used lamb instead of pork, lentils instead of black beans, made a curry base instead of the condiments you suggested, coconut oil to give it some zing. It was quite nice. I look forward to being able to follow your recipe!!!

    • hello Aziza, thank you for sharing your recipe with me. A curry based sauce sounds FANTASTIC! I would love to replicate your version! I always try to find new ways to make bitter melon and your recipe sounds right up my alley. Please let me know how you like the Chinese version! Thanks.

  6. My grandmother and mother made this for us when we were kids. Always loved it. These days only get to have it when going to dimsum…..until yesterday, when I prepared it using your recipe. It was delicious. Thanks for sharing it.

    • hey Jose, I am so glad to hear that the dish came out good. I really wish bitter melon is more popular here in the States so more people could try it out. Thanks again for your feedback.

  7. Pingback: Spaghetti with Duck in Black Pepper Sauce | 黑椒烤鴨炒意粉 | Yi Reservation

  8. Thank you so very much for this! This looks great. Have to try it sometime. I love bitter melon. There is a cold dish that is very nice using very thinly sliced bitter melon with black beans. Refreshing in the extreme!

  9. This looks delicious and I can’t wait to try it. Thanks for the recipes, please keep them coming!

  10. Hello Yi

    Ray, here. i wonder you can help me, regarding bake cookies

    because i’ve try but i over burn. can you please guide me

    which temp is best to bake the cookies

    tks
    rgds/Ray

    • Hi Ray,
      Thanks for your visit. Regarding your question on baking cookies, the time they need all depend on the size of the cookies and your reference on the softness of the cookies. My usual approach is to bake the cookies 5 minutes shorter than the suggested time. This way, you get to check on them before you over-bake.

      I hope this helps.

      Yi

  11. Pingback: Braised Stuffed Bitter Melon with Black Bean Sauce « Mimsy's Blog

  12. Great recipe!

    Do you know a way to make the stuffing vegan?

    I was thinking bean curd and shiitake mushroom stem with 5-spice.

    What do you think?

    Da

    • Hi Da,
      Thanks for your visit.
      I would agree that tofu and shiitake mushroom with 5-spice make a great vegan stuffing.
      You can also consider adding clear rice noodles (chopped) and mashed potatoes. The trick is to make the stuffing firm enough so it’ll hold in shape when you pan fried the bitter melon.
      In terms of flavoring, you can also consider adding some minced ginger and sesame oil.
      Please let me know how it comes out if you get to make it!

      Yi

  13. Your recipe looks delicious! The amount of sesame oil for the meat marinade is missing though!

  14. wow *drools*! im one of those who grew up eating and loving bitter melons – love them in soup and stir fried especially (with salted egg yolks)! had no idea about all the healthful benefit it has though…def need to up on it coz last time my chinese doc said my ‘yin’ was very weak haahaha.

  15. I enjoy bitter melon. I have done similar by steaming the stuffed bittermelon. Braising will impart so much flavors too.

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