Bittermelons are hanging fruits grown on tropical vines that belong in gourds family. There are two types of bitter melons available in the United States: Indian and Chinese. Indian bittermelon is shorter, has more pronounced bumps and greener in color. On the other hand, the Chinese kind has fewer bumps on the skin, and lighter in color, resembling cucumber. In Japan, Goya and Nigauri (both meaning bitter melon) look and taste a bit like a cross between the Indian and Chinese bitter melon.
Despite its appearance and bitterness, bittermelon has remarkable health benefits: they are excellent potassium sources, which helps balance the fluid level in the body. Bittermelon also has a high level of antioxidants, as well as Vitamin A and C.
Bittermelon with Pickled Plum, Bonito, and Soy is a side dish that can be prepared ahead of time. The sourness of the plum, the smokiness of the bonito, both help cut back, and the soy sauce neutralizes otherwise a very bitter taste. Enjoy the bitterness of the summer.
Note: As the name suggests, bittermelons are very bitter not for everyone, especially children. if you are not ready to commit to the intense bitterness, try making Bittermelon, Beef, and Eggs with an Oyster Sauce recipe to get yourself used to the flavor.
Bittermelon with Pickled Plum, Bonito, and Soy
- 2 small bitter melon prefer Indian bitter melon for this recipe
- 2 Umeboshi pickled plum
- 2 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1-2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 3 grams bonito flakes
- Gather ingredients
- Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan.
- Wash the bitter-melons and cut them in lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop out the white membrane and seeds out. Slice them crosswise, 2-3 mm.
- Add a teaspoon of salt to boiling water, blanch the bitter-melon for 30 seconds to one minute, and then take them out on a colander. Rinse under cold water and squeeze out excess water. Set it aside.
- Remove pits off pickled plum and mince them on a cutting board with a knife to make a paste. In a small bowl, add plum paste, soy sauce, and bonito flakes and mix well. Add bitter-melon and sesame oil and toss them well.
- Let it marinate for 30 minutes or so before serving.