Parboiling the bitter melon makes this bitter melon recipe quick, easy and foolproof.
Bitter melon, also known as bitter gourd or ampalaya, is an acquired taste. You either love it or hate it. It usually takes people well into their adult years before they learn to enjoy the bitterness. Call me strange but I have loved the taste of bitter melon for as long as I can remember. I have many fond memories of my grandma preparing vegetarian dishes using bitter melon, from bitter melon soup, to stir-frys, and many side dishes. Perhaps the early exposure to this bitter gourd helped me appreciate it early in life. Or maybe I was fortunate to have my grandma prepare bitter melon in so many delicious ways.
This bitter melon recipe is one that was passed down from my grandma. I watched and helped her make this countless times. This particular bitter melon recipe is one that she prepared almost weekly. I modified her recipe with the addition of sliced pork and Shaoxing wine. Feel free to omit these two ingredients for a vegetarian version.
How to Cook Bitter Melon with Pork and Black Beans
Preparing bitter melon for this recipe is very easy. Cut each melon lengthwise to reveal the seeds inside. Using a spoon, simply scrape and discard the seeds and all the white connective fibers holding the seeds in place. Cut each piece into 1 centimeter slices.
Cook the bitter melon in a pot of boiling water for about 10 minutes until it's tender but not mushy. Drain the bitter melon and set aside.
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a wok or skillet and stir fry the minced garlic until it's aromatic. Add the sliced pork and stir fry until it's almost cooked through. Add bitter melon, black beans and the sauce ingredients and stir fry until the sauce is well incorporated and the pork is fully cooked.
How to Make Bitter Melon Less Bitter
There are several methods to removing some of the bitterness (I don’t do any of these since I love the bitterness). After cutting lengthwise and removing the seeds, you can rub the inside and out with salt. Allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes, then rinse off the salt. Alternatively, you can soak the bitter melon in salt water (one heaping tablespoon of salt in about a quart of water). Allow it to soak 15-20 minutes, then rinse well before slicing.
- 2-3 medium sized bitter melon, deseeded and sliced
- ½ lb pork, thinly sliced into strips
- 1 tablespoon fermented black beans, lightly rinsed
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- Prepare the bitter melon by cutting in half, lengthwise. Using a spoon, scrape out the seeds and discard. Cut each half into 1 cm pieces.
- Cook the bitter melon in boiling water for 10 minutes, until slightly soft. Drain and set aside.
- Combine all the SAUCE ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.
- Heat a wok or skillet over high heat until it starts to smoke. Add a tablespoon of oil. Add the garlic and stir for about 5-10 seconds, just until it begins to change color.
- Add the pork and stir constantly until the pork is mostly cooked. This will be very fast since the pork is thinly sliced.
- Add the bitter melon, black beans and SAUCE.
- Stir constantly until everything is well combined and the pork is cooked through.