Stuffed Bitter Melon (镶苦瓜)
October 8, 2022  Print
I talked about my own experience with bitter melon in a previous post, Bitter Melon Salad. Despite my kids’ strong objections, I have been testing different bitter melon recipes and hoping for a miracle. Maybe they will slowly acquire a taste for bitter melon. Especially in Texas where the summer is long, hot, and humid, I think bitter melon could potentially become a staple on our dinner table. So today’s recipe is another one of my experiments with bitter melon.
One of the key ingredient in this recipe is the fermented black beans (douchi 豆豉). I’ve talked about fermented black beans in depth in one of my early posts, Steamed Salmon with Black Bean Sauce. As I mentioned there, these fermented black beans don’t look that inviting, but they are actually an ancient creation that’s been made for thousands of years. They not only add superb flavor and umami to many proteins, such as seafood or meat, but also to certain vegetables. And it turns out that bitter melon is one of the best veggies to paired with fermented black beans.
For this recipe, the bitter melon chunks are used as vehicles to hold the ground pork mixture. The flavor of the stuffed meat and its juice gets absorbed into the bitter melon, making it flavorful and soft. The bitter melon’s refreshing taste complements the fermented black bean infused meat extremely well.
Gluten Free, Low Carb
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
- 1 medium bitter melon (~1/2 lb or 225g)
- 1/4 lb ground pork
- 1 teaspoon fermented black beans (douchi) 1
- 1 half inch ginger, peeled and minced
- 1/2 teaspoon light soy sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1 raw egg 2 (optional)
- Chop 1 teaspoon of fermented black beans into small pieces. Add the black beans, minced ginger, 1/4 teaspoon of light soy sauce, 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon of sugar, and 1 raw egg (optional) to the ground pork. Thoroughly mix everything in either a clockwise or counterclockwise direction.
- Wash the bitter melon thoroughly. Remove the two ends. Cut the bitter melon into 1 inch (~2.5cm) chunks. Use a spoon or huller to carefully scoop out the seeds. Lay the hollowed bitter melon chunks on a flat plate.
- Heat a steamer or a large pot with a steamer rack under medium-high heat. While waiting for the water to boil, stuff the hollowed bitter melons chunks with the pork mixture. When the bitter melon chunks have been filled, add a little more stuffing to cover the top (as shown). Repeat until all the bitter melon chunks are filled.
- When the water in the steamer begins to boil, gently transfer the stuffed bitter melon to the steamer. Cover the lid and maintain a medium-high heat for 10 minutes. When 10 minutes are up, remove the lid and carefully transfer the dish to an insulated surface. Let cool for 1 or 2 minutes before enjoying.
- Fermented black beans (douchi 豆豉) usually come in vacuum-sealed plastic bags. They are either called Fermented Black Beans or Fermented Soy Beans. When buying them from Asian grocery stores, make sure there is an expiration date. Once open, seal and refrigerate the bag. If you can’t find whole fermented black beans, you can substitute with 2 teaspoons of bottled fermented black bean sauce, also known simply as black bean sauce.
- The egg helps to bind the ground pork together. But it’s not an absolutely necessary ingredient especially if your ground pork has more fat content.
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