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Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Hong Kong Bitter Melon 65


Studies over the years record the anti-diabetic and other wonderful properties of bitter gourd/bitter melon (Momordica charantia) and yet it remains one of the not-so-easily-incorporated foods in daily diet. Possibly its strong bitter taste and lack of versatility are the reasons, along with not-easily-available.

So far I've primarily cooked with two varieties of bitter gourd/bitter melon - the dark skinned, pronouncedly ridged, smaller Indian variety, and the larger, lighter green, smoother-skinned Chinese Fu Gwa. They each have their distinct taste and lend themselves to many dishes that I have shared here.

This time, a third variety - Hong Kong Bitter Melon - was available at the nearby Asian market, inspiring me to cook it in a not-before-cooked way - at least not-before-cooked in my kitchen.


Hong Kong Bitter Melon has beautiful light green skin, smooth with gentle ridges, thick flesh and very mild bitter flavor. Which makes it more versatile in my book.

Inspired by the Cauliflower 65 recipe shared a while back, this Hong Kong Bitter Melon 65 recipe turned out to be a delicious new way to enjoy the benefits of this fruit.


The general theory is that 'Anything tastes good when battered and deep-fried'. And, while I am not much for deep-fried foods, the light non-greasy batter-coated fried Hong Kong Bitter Melon 65 turned out to be quite a snack treat one weekend afternoon. Especially when served with the sweet-and-sour Tamarind Sauce.

Ingredients
2 Hong Kong Bitter Melon
1 tsp red chili powder
a few drops of red food color (optional)
1 Tbsp ginger-garlic paste
2 cups rice flour
salt to taste

Canola or vegetable oil for deep frying

For the Tamarind Sauce:
1 tsp Tamicon™ tamarind paste
2 Tbsp brown sugar
salt to taste
optional: finely diced home-garden pearl onions and onion sprouts, home-garden green chilies
5 cups of water

Preparation
  1. Tamarind Sauce: Combine the sauce ingredients and bring to a boil, lower heat to medium high and continue to simmer till sauce reduces to about 1 cup; it takes quite a long time to get the most delicious flavor and texture for it so I prefer to start cooking the sauce first; taste and adjust flavors for the sweet-sour balance
  2. Hong Kong Bitter Melon: Remove the spongy insides of the bitter melon, slice into rings, salt it an allow to sweat; then drain, pat dry and dust lightly with some rice flour and set aside
  3. Heat the oil in a pan for deep frying
  4. Batter: Combine the ginger-garlic paste, rice four, salt, chilli powder, food color if using, and any other preferred spices, add a little water at a time to make a smooth batter
  5. Dunk the bitter melon rings in the batter and deep fry
  6. Serve hot off the frying pan with the richly flavored Tamarind Sauce

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