Bitter Melon and Eggs Stir Fry
You may wonder, what is this green oblong shaped thing that I am holding??? This is called a bitter melon. 苦瓜 (ku gua) in Chinese. And yes, just as the name implies. It tastes bitter. It fact, it is not poisonous but actually healthy and good for diabetes!
This bitter melon actually came straight out of my patient's backyard. When I saw this, I was so amazed by it's beautiful color. It is also bigger and thicker than what I usually see in the supermarket! To be honest, at first I didn't know what to do with it because it is not a vegetable I normally cook with but love having when my family in China makes it for me :) My mother, on the other hand said she doesn't like the bitter taste... so I thought why not try cooking it with eggs? The problem is, simply cooking it with eggs will not reduce it's natural bitter taste.
How can you reduce it's bitterness? Although there are other ways to approach this. When stir-frying I like to do this simple 2-step method. First, blanch it (heat shock in boiling water followed by rapid cooling in iced water). And then, rub it in salt and let it sit for at least 5 minutes or so. The salt draws out the bitter juice. So cool!
Another tip, is to look for ripe bitter melon because the more ripe it is, the less bitter it becomes! Watch out for a melon that is light green in color with tinges of yellow or light orange on the outside. When cutting it open in halves, the seed covering insides will appear from light greenish white to bright red.
A quick glimpse at it's nutrition. And why you should include this vegetable in your diet.
It is low in calorie. As little as 17 calories for every 100 grams serving.
Rich in dietary fiber and is known to be a natural laxative. Great for regular bowel movements. Relieves indigestion and prevents constipation.
Rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. High in vitamin C (great for our immune system and skin) and iron. Can you believe that it contains twice the β-carotene of broccoli, twice the potassium of bananas, and twice the calcium of spinach? Speaking of β-carotene, I need to eat more of this vegetable and improve my eye health.
But wait! Did't you also say it's good for diabetes? I sure did! Studies have also shown that bitter melon in concentrated forms such as extracts or juicing can have a hypoglycemic effect and lower your blood sugar levels. This is due to its high level of charantin which contains vicine and polypeptide-P (an insulin-like compound) that can both work together in better managing your blood glucose levels. It is also interesting to note that this does not mean it can act as a replacement therapy for taking your diabetes medication or insulin. However, it can be helpful when taken together. Anyone fancy a bitter melon juice? ;)
As you can see, this strange and funny vegetable offers a ton of nutritional benefits! It may be an acquired taste for many but you never know! Perhaps it'll grow on you just like it did for me. Dare your friends to try it if they've never tried it and enjoy the recipe below!
Bitter Melon and Eggs Stir Fry Recipe
1 whole bitter melon
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 inch cube-sized ginger, minced
Chinese pepper powder to taste
salt to taste
Wash clean and cut the bitter melon in halves length-wise.
Use a spoon and scoop out the seeds.
Slice each half into thin slices and rub with salt. Let sit for at least 5 minutes.
Mince garlic and ginger.
In a separate bowl. Add eggs, a little salt and Chinese pepper powder. And whisk until combined. I like to give a nice whisk to get a mini arm workout and also so the eggs can become more fluffier in texture.
Prepare a large bowl with ice cubes and cold water. This will be used later during the blanching process (technique used to preserve the vegetable's bright color and crisp texture).
Place wok or skillet on stove and turn onto medium-high heat. Add water and bring into a boil.
Once boiling, add bitter melon and give it a quick blanch by transferring the cooked bitter melon only into the ice cold water you've already created earlier. Dump out remaining boiled water.
Heat wok or skillet on medium high heat and add olive oil.
Once oil is heated, pour beaten egg mixture and scramble. Transfer scrambled eggs to plate once the desired consistency is reached.
With the same wok or skillet, reheat, add olive oil, garlic and ginger and sauté for about a minute.
Add scrambled egg and mix. Add salt to taste.
Serve and enjoy!