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Bitter melon recipe – the ultimate stuffed bitter melon

This bitter melon recipe with stuffed minced pork is a drool-worthy Cantonese dish to include in your dinner rotation.

It slightly bitter and refreshing flavor paired perfectly with the stuffing with minced meat and mushrooms.

Bitter melon is also a vegetable with multiple health benefits. If you are looking for an innovative way to cook, don’t skip this stuffed bitter melon recipe.

It is particularly delicious when served with savory black bean paste. 

Let‘s get into the details.

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Stuffed bitter melon recipe (with minced meat)

Stuffed bitter melon recipe. with minced meat and mushroom. Great Cantonese homecook recipe.

1. How to prepare the bitter melon

Cut the bitter melon

  • Choose the bitter melon that is straight. It is easier to cut it into rings with a straight edge.
  • Remove both ends, then cut the bitter melon into rings of about 3/4 inch (2cm) thick.
  • Remove the seeds at the center of the rings with a metal spoon. Scrape the inner surface with the spoon until it is clean.
  • Place the bitter melon rings in a  large container. Sprinkle a large teaspoon of salt on them and mix well. Let it rest for fifteen minutes.
  • Remove the bitter melon from the salt solution. Rinse away the salt with water.

Note

Salt helps draw out water and bitterness. After some time, the surface of the bitter melon will become wet. This step is essential as most bitter melons are too bitter if you do not treat them with salt. 

Hairy melon- an alternative to bitter melon

Hairy melon is also widely used by the Cantonese, which is an alternative to bitter melon. The preparation method is identical, except you do not need to treat it with salt.

2. Prepare the stuffing

Choose the type of meat you prefer

The main ingredient for the stuffed bitter melon is minced pork. However, chicken and beef are suitable alternatives.

I love to add some fats to the meat to make it tender and moist.  The gold standard is twenty percent of fat with eighty percent of lean meat. Of course, you can choose to use ground meat purchases from the supermarket to save time. However, the flavor is so much better if you make it from scratch, starting by cutting and mincing it.

You can explore using other stuffing for this bitter melon recipe. For example, it is delicious to add some chopped shrimp or fish paste (minced fish meat).  The possibility is endless.

Other ingredients

Using meat alone as the stuffing seems unexciting, so I have decided to add a few ingredients to accentuate the taste.

  • Dried shitake mushroom has rich umami and aromatic flavor. Its meaty and chewy texture is great to pair with the soft and tender minced meat. 
  • A small amount of finely diced carrot improves the color and presentation of the stuffing.
  • The minced pork can be pretty compact and firm on its own. Therefore, it is good to add some chopped onion to make the stuffing lighter and soft.

The seasoning for the stuffing

  • Chinese has many provinces, and there is a vast difference in the seasoning used between them. For example, the main seasonings for Cantonese are light soy sauce and oyster sauce, while Szechuan food tends to be hot and spicy, with chili bean paste and Szechuan peppercorns. Naturally, my cooking style is more Cantonese inclined since I grow up in a typical Cantonese family. Therefore, light soy sauce and oyster sauce are the foundation for most of the Cantonese dishes that I cook. 
  • Chopped garlic and ginger are my absolute favorites aromatic for meat-based stuffing. 
  • Other than that, all you need is to add some salt, ground white pepper, and some Shaoxing wine.

The technique

  • Mix all the ingredients and seasoning in a large mixing bowl. The mixture may not stick together well initially. However, it will progressively turn into a sticky paste when you work on it.
  • The Cantonese apply a useful method to speed up this mixing process. The technique is simple, just by leaving up the meat paste with your palm and repeatedly smash it back to the bowl.  This action breakdown the protein of the meat and transform it into a more springy texture. It also restructures the meat paste to be more sticky. It is ready when you see there are streaks of meat paste sticking on the bowl.
Best bitter melon recipe with miced pork. Steam for 15 minutes. Best to serve with black bean sauce..

3. Steam the stuffed bitter melon

  • Divide the stuffing into one oz portions.
  • Shape each portion to a ball, then stuff it into the bitter melon ring. Press the stuffing to fill up space in the ring.  This step can prevent the filling from detaching from the bitter melon ring when it shrinks slightly after steaming.
  • The amount should be slightly more than it can contain to form a small dome on top.
  • Place the stuffed bitter melon rings in a steaming tray with a raised edge to contain the gravy produced while steaming.
  • Set up a steaming station with a wok and steaming rack.  You can get a steaming set specifically for this purpose if you are steaming food often in the kitchen.
  • Steam over medium heat for fifteen minutes. Remove the stuffed bitter melons and place them on a serving plate. Drizzle the gravy on top and serve. 

4. Variations 

Bitter melon soup

The stuffed bitter melon with minced meat has a light and refreshing flavor, which delicious on its own or serve with steamed rice. You can also turn it into stuffed bitter melon soup by placing them in a pot fill with some water just enough to submerge them and simmer it until cooked. Finally, season the soup with some ground white pepper and salt.

Serve with black bean sauce

The flavor of black bean sauce paired perfectly with bitter melon. You can add some black bean sauce to the bitter melon to switch it up to a more savory version.

The store-bought black bean paste has a strong flavor, so I suggest adding a few ingredients to make black bean gravy. 

  • Grind 2 tbsp of black bean paste with a mortar and pestle or the knife’s blade. Some black bean paste is too coarse, and I prefer to make it pastier.
  • Place it in a small pan, along with 2 cloves of chopped garlic, 1 tbsp of Shaoxing wine, and 2 tsp of oil. 
  • Make a thin cornstarch slurry with 1 tsp of cornstarch and 4 tbsp of water. Add it slowly to the pan while stirring. Stop adding the slurry when the sauce has reached the desired consistency you want.

Related recipes to stuffed bitter melon with minced meat

You will love to try the following recipes if you like this stuffed bitter melon recipe.

Braised bitter gourd with chicken is a classic home-cooked dish hugely popular among Chinese households in Malaysia. The bitter notes from the bitter gourd combined seamlessly with the tender chicken after absorbing all the black bean sauce.

This winter melon soup recipe is adapted from my mother’s recipe, which she cooked for our family when I was young. Try it if you like melon!

Yield: 18 stuffed bitter melons

Stuffed bitter melon recipe

Stuffed bitter melon square

This bitter melon recipe with stuffed minced pork is a drool-worthy Cantonese dish to include in your dinner rotation.

It slightly bitter and refreshing flavor paired perfectly with the stuffing with minced meat and mushrooms.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Remove both ends of the bitter melon, then cut into rings of about 3/4 inch (2cm) height.
  2. Remove the seeds and scrape the inner surface with the spoon until it is clean.
  3. Sprinkle a large teaspoon of salt on them and mix well. Let it rest for fifteen minutes.
  4. Remove the bitter melon from the salt solution. Rinse away the salt with water.
  5. Mix all the ingredients A in a large mixing bowl. Leave up the meat paste and repeatedly smash it back to the bowl until it is well combined, sticky, and pasty.
  6. Divide the stuffing into one oz portions. Press the stuffing to fill up all the space in the ring.  The amount should be slightly more than it can contain to form a small dome on the top.
  7. Place the stuffed bitter melon rings in a steaming tray.
  8. Steam over medium heat for fifteen minutes.
  9. Remove the stuffed bitter melons and place them on a serving plate. Drizzle the gravy on top and serve. 

Black bean sauce (optional):

  1. Grind 2 tbsp of black bean paste and garlic with a mortar and pestle. 
  2. Place it in a small pan, add 1 tbsp of Shaoxing wine, and 2 tsp of oil. 
  3. Thicken the sauce with the cornstarch slurry until it reaches the desired consistency you want.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

18

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 74Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 22mgSodium: 297mgCarbohydrates: 2gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 7g

This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix on 5/12/2021

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