Have you ever wondered why people eat astringent, medicine-like bitter tasting melon? And yes, I never enjoyed this as a small child growing up in Japan, but as an adult it’s become an acquired taste and something I now crave. Native to southeast Asian and Africa, this plant is widely eaten in Japan, especially in Okinawa and Kyushu, where I spent my early childhood.
Despite its taste, bitter melon is packed with nutrients like iron, magnesium, potassium, vitamin B and helps lower your blood sugar. I enjoy bitter melon when it’s in season at farmers’ markets during the hot summer months. It will give you a healthy energy booster. Try sauteing bitter melon with meat, tofu or egg to make an entree to serve with rice.
Beef and Bitter Melon with Oyster Sauce
- `1 bitter melon
- 300 grams thinly sliced beef
- 3 eggs lightly beaten eggs medium sized
- 1 tablespoon freshly chopped ginger
- 1 sliced red pepper
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated garlic
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sake
- 1/4 cup chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil canola or soy bean oil works well
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- Cut bitter melon lengthwise and remove seeds and fibrous core then slice them crosswise into quarter inch thickness.
- In a pot of boiling water, add 1 teaspoon of salt and blanch the bitter melon about 30 seconds. Drain the bitter melon and set it aside.
- Place beef in a bowl and sprinkle with salt, pepper and sake. Set it aside.
- Mix together oyster sauce, garlic and soy sauce in a small bowl. Set it aside
- Heat large frying pan and add 1 tablespoon of cooking oil. Scramble eggs and take it out. Set it aside.
- Return the frying pan to heat and add 1 tablespoon of oil. Add ginger and red pepper. When fragrant, add beef and saute until cooked through. Add bitter melon and scrambled eggs to beef then #4 (oyster sauce, garlic and soy sauce). Pour chicken stock and drizzle the dish with 1 tablespoon of sesame oil. Adjust seasoning. Serve hot.