Thursday, September 17, 2009

Cooking with Bitter Melon

Bitter melon is a a common ingredient in many Asian cuisines, however many in America not previously exposed to this unique vegetable are unsure as to how to make the most of or in some cases, temper the flavor of this delicious vegetable. Here, we have compiled several tips for preparation of this distinctive vegetable.

Basic Preparation

Cut bitter melon in half, discard seeds and fibrous core. This vegetable is not typically peeled, as the skin is edible and turns a vibrant green during preparation. The seed are also edible, however they are very firm and do not soften well with cooking, so removal is recommended. Like eggplant, bitter melon can be salted and rested to remove some of the bitterness from its flesh. Simply core the melon, dust it generously with salt and let it sit for ten minutes. Rinse the slices and prepare as you wish. Another way to reduce bitterness, is to blanch cut melon slices it in boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes.

Lightly pickling the bitter melon also helps to remove the strong flavor. For one bitter melon, bring 1 cup of white vinegar to a boil. Add 2 Tbs. sugar, 2 Tsp. salt, and 1 Tsp Turmeric. Bring all to a boil and add bitter melon slices. Boil for two minutes, remove, drain and cool. Then prepare as you wish.

Bitter melon is commonly stuffed with spiced meats, curried, sauteed with onion or red pepper with scrambled eggs or omelettes. Another common preparation is in stir-frys with fermented black beans, chicken and other meats.

When developing your own recipes be aware that bitter melon is an excellent ingredient to use with strong flavors including spices, rich sauces and fermented flavors. With spicy foods, bitter melon acts as a coolant and with rich sauces such as coconut milk or curry, the flavor balances the natural oils in these other ingredients acting as a palette cleanser.

For many tasty and easy to prepare recipes which enhance the flavors of this unique melon, visit

Thanks to City Market of Kansas City for this information.