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Getting used to bitter melon

August 28, 2010

Lately my younger brother been on a growth spurt, from being just a hair shorter than me at the beginning of the year to about four inches taller. However, he also grew some really bad acne, so as a Chinese hot-cold method of remedying the situation, my mom has begun to incorporate a lot of bitter melon into our food in hopes of cooling down his system.

This incredibly bitter fruit has wonderful nutritive properties. Per 100g of cooked fruit, there are:
– 19 calories
– 2g fiber (out of 4g carbs)
– 1g protein
– 55% Vitamin C
– 5% Vitamin K
– 4% Vitamin B1 and B2
– 2% Vitamin B3
– 3% Vitamin B6
– 19% Vitamin B9
– 3% iron
– 8% zinc

We’ve been throwing slices of about a quarter of the bitter melon into smoothies of about 3 cups, and stir frying it as a side dish for dinner. We have also thrown them in soups with pork to give the broth a deeper flavor.

Today I prepared the stir fried (and easiest cooked version) of the bitter melon for dinner. First I cut it lengthwise like a cucumber so that I could easily position it facing downwards to cut into slices.

Then I de-seeded it by using my bare hands to scoop the seeds out of each of the halves of the gourd. Sometimes the seeds can be red, which is a good indicator of the ripeness of the melon. Yellow seeds mean that it is younger, while red seeds that are sweet indicate a ripe fruit.

After cutting them into chunks, I tossed the pieces into a bowl before I oiled up the wok for stir frying.

After allowing the wok to heat up, I put the entire bowl of bitter melon in to sit for about a minute. I then stirred the pieces around several times over a period of about three minutes. Since bitter melon cooks extremely quickly, and can even be eaten raw anyway, it didn’t take long for the color to turn a deep green, indicating that it was fully cooked.

I find that allowing the bitter melon to turn a little mushier causes it to be less bitter. I, however, don’t like the texture of the fruit to be too mushy, so I like to keep it crunchy and a little more bitter on the aftertaste.

It’s been several weeks since we started incorporating all the bitter melon, and I think my palate has been trained to at least tolerate it a little more. I’ve successfully worked my way from three individual pieces to a small bowlful, so I expect my health to significantly improve and for my skin to be glowing by the end of summer!

Dai Dai

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