Bitter melon or bitter gourd is a unique vegetable-fruit that can be used as food or medicine. The melon is rich in vital vitamins and minerals so that it’s very healthy. Bitter melon contains charantin, which has been confirmed to have a blood glucose-lowering effect, vicine and an insulin-like compound known as polypeptide-p. In addition, it’s also good for diabetes. Although it has bitter taste, Vietnamese people love to eat this food. In Vietnam, we use bitter melon to cook Stir-fried bitter melon with duck egg, Vegetarian braised tofu with vegetables and Vietnamese stuffed bitter melon with pork. Vietnamese people call bitter melon “Kho qua” which literally means “going through difficulties”. Vietnamese stuffed bitter melon with pork or Kho qua don thit is a must food at Tet festival in South Vietnam for its good meaning, it symbolizes for better things in new year.
It takes many steps to cook Kho qua don thit. Bitter melons must be medium-sized, fresh, green and shining. The cook uses a sharp knife to cut melon along the length and remove inside part including seeds. Then melons are boiled in water for about 2 minutes so that they are less bitter and easy to be stuffed with fillings.
Fillings are made from pork, wood ear, straw mushroom, duck egg, vermicelli cellophane, purple shallots, garlic, black pepper. All ingredients to make fillings are ground or minced, then mixed well, put into the bitter melons. The cook blanches green onions and use them to tighten the melons stuffed with fillings. Lastly, stuffed bitter melon with pork is cooked in broth for about 1-2 hours. The broth must be salty and bitter; melons and fillings must be tender, a little hot. Vietnamese people usually serve this food in a soup bowl, top it with ground pepper, chopped green onion, dip it in fish sauce and eat with steamed sticky rice.
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