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
Farmer's market bitter melon sauteed with beef and 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.