Bitter-melon does indeed have a bitter flavor, as you can probably guess by it’s namesake. I’m not sure if it’s an acquired taste, but my husband and I love it. I ate it growing up, from time to time throughout my childhood. My parents usually stir fried this with either a black bean sauce or soy sauce based sauce; my entire family loves this dish. It was a strange type of comfort food. We never ordered this eating out at Chinese restaurants; it was a dish we ate only at home.
I’m always in search to recreate food recipes that I’ve had and liked. I had a Filipino version of bitter melon I ate at my husband’s aunt house during a family gathering. It was simple, yummy and filling. It reminded me of the bittermelon dish we ordered at the hot food station at a Japanese supermarket, minus the hint of sesame flavor.
I glanced through various Filipino recipes and noticed there were tomatoes in most versions. I didn’t have them this time, so I omitted them.
For Japanese recipes, I noticed it’s often prepared with sesame, tofu or both tofu and egg. With all the seasoning and toppings in this recipe, I’d say this version taste more Japanese.
In Chinese variations I’ve seen it prepared with mostly black bean sauce.
In India, bittermelon is prepared with curry!
Here’s my take on bittermelon below:
3 bitter-melons sliced 1/4 of an inch thick
1/2 onion diced
5-7 cloves of garlic minced
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 or 1tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
Salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
1/2 tsp chicken powder (optional)
4tbsp oil divided
1- Prep the bitter-melon by sprinkling them generously with salt. This really gets a lot of the bitter flavor out so that’s it’s more palatable. I let it sit for 10 minutes while the prep the rest of the ingredients. Then rinse and drain. Set aside.
2- Sauté onion and garlic for 1-2 minutes in 2 Tbsp oil.
3- Add another 2 tbsp of oil, the bitter- melon and add 1/2-1tsp salt and mix around with onion and garlic for 8-10 minutes. We like it on the softer side so we did 10.
4- Add soy sauce, sugar and more salt to taste. Add black pepper to your liking. We love black pepper! Mix well and cook for another 2 minutes.
5- Whisk eggs and season with salt to taste. I added 1/2 tsp of chicken powder.
6- Pour into the pan and let it set and stir as you would to scramble eggs. It’s done once the eggs are set.
7- I had mine as is, with quinoa, but hubby puts Japanese toppings (Bonito flakes (tuna flakes) and Furikake (dried seaweed, sesame condiment , salt, sugar, msg, sometimes also with dried egg or salmon shown below) on nearly everything!
Have you ever had bitter-melon before?