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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Hong Kong Bitter Melon Stuffed and Braised


Now that we've found an Asian market that sells Hong Kong Bitter Melon on and off, I've been favoring them to the usual Fu Gwa and Indian Bittergourd. Its milder flavor and thick flesh makes it more versatile than its other two cousins in my book.

The Braised and Stuffed Bitter Melon recipe here is based on the popular Chinese version which uses minced pork for stuffing. I went with a vegetarian stuffing of fragrant Jasmine rice cooked with rich flavors coming from onions, garlic, chilies, tamarind, mint, with a hint of brown sugar.

Ingredients
2 Hong Kong Bitter Melons, cleaned and cut as before into 2-inch rings

3 to 4 cups Tamarind Sauce as shared in the Hong Kong Bitter Melon 65 recipe

2 Tbsp canola oil

For the Stuffing:
2 cups cooked Jasmine rice
1 medium onion finely diced
4-6 cloves of garlic minced
3-6 mint leaves finely chopped
1 Tbsp brown sugar (optional)
½ cup rich Tamarind Sauce
salt to taste

Preparation
  1. Stuffing: heat the oil in a pan, sauté the onions and garlic, add the chopped mint, cooked rice, some salt, about ½ cup water and the tamarind sauce; allow to simmer together at medium-low heat, stirring frequently; The rice gets gooey and thick, light brownish anf flavorful; taste and adjust salt; add a hint brown sugar if preferred
  2. Bitter Melon: Blanch the 2-inch rings of cleaned bitter melon, pat dry and keep handy for stuffing
  3. Stuffing and Braising: Heat oil in a pan; fill each blanched bitter melon ring with the stuffing; place it in the hot pan; sear the bottom and allow to sit for a few minutes; add a little of the tamarind sauce, cover, allow to cook at low heat; when most of the tamarind sauce is gone, add a little more, cover and continue cooking; repeat till bitter melon is softer but not mushy and still holds shape when lifted out of the pan
  4. Serving: Arrange them in a plate, spoon some of the Tamarind sauce over and serve warm or cold




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