Stuffed Bitter Melon with Ground Pork (猪肉酿苦瓜 - 一帆风顺)
Some people can't stand bitter melon due to its taste; you can replace it with bell pepper. However, bitter melon is special to me. I hated it when I was a little kid. My parents always teach me by saying 吃得苦中苦，方为人上人, which means - only those who endure the most become the highest. Over time, I just learned how to enjoy it. The shape of a half-bitter melon is like a little boat; I also used daikon radish slices to make some sails. Together, they create a meaningful presentation. I named this dish "一帆风顺." Life can be bitter sometimes; may you sail through all the waves and winds.
- 1 Bitter Melon (about 227g / 0.5lb )
- 200g (7 oz) of ground pork
- 2 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 tbsp (19g) of soy sauce
2 tsp (11.5g) of oyster sauce
2 tsp of Chinese cooking wine
- 1 tbsp of minced garlic
- 1 tsp of minced ginger
1 tbsp of cornstarch
- 1/4 cup of diced scallion
- 1 tbsp of minced garlic
- 1/3 tsp of salt
1.5 tsp of cornstarch to thicken the sauce
- 1/2 cup of the mushroom soaking water
1/2 tsp of dark soy sauce
- 1/4 cup of oil to fry the stuffed bitter melon
- Bamboo Sticks to make the poles
- Daikon Radish to Make sails
1 tbsp of cornstarch to coat the inner surface of the bitter melon
To Stuff the Bitter Melon
For the Gravy
- Soak two pieces of dried shitake mushrooms for 2 hours or until fully rehydrated.
- Squeeze the water out of the mushroom and dice it finely. Reserve the soaking liquid for later use. You can use fresh mushrooms if you want, but then you will have to use water to make the gravy instead of the soaking liquid.
- Cut the bitter melon in half, lengthwise. Use a spoon to remove the seeds and the white spongy layer. Dust the inner surface with cornstarch. The filling shrinks, and the bitter melon releases moisture while cooking, which may cause separation. Cornstarch acts like glue to keep them together.
- Cut a daikon radish into a perfect cuboid (3*2*1 inches), then slice the cuboid into thin slaps by using a sharp knife.
- Add soy sauce, oyster sauce, Chinese cooking wine, minced garlic, ginger, cornstarch, diced scallion, and mushroom to the ground pork; mix within one direction for a few minutes or until your arm is sour.
- Divide the filling in half and stuff it into the bitter melon boats.
- Preheat a cast iron skillet and add 1/4 cup of oil. Place the stuffed bitter melon meat side down. Pan-fry it over medium heat for 6 minutes with the lid covered. Flip the bitter melon and fry the other side for a few minutes or until cooked. Remove the bitter melon from the skillet and set it aside.
- To the same skillet, add all the gravy ingredients. Heat it over medium heat and constantly stir until the sauce bubbles and thickens.
- Pour the gravy over the stuffed bitter melon. Stick the skewers into the daikon radish slices to make sails. Stick the sails on the half-bitter melon boat and serve.