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Bitter Melon and Pork

Bitter melon a popular vegetable in Asia.

Why on earth would we eat a melon that is bitter? Because we like bitterness, in our coffee, our tea, our chocolate, our liquor bitters. Bitter melon introduces a hint of bitterness in our home cooking that is actually quite addictive.

Name: Bitter Melon and Pork

Difficulty: 5 out of 10

Prep time: 25 mins.

Ingredients: 1 bitter melon (from ethnic stores, Indian or Chinese), 1/2 lbs of pork belly sliced, 2 cloves of garlic, small amounts of ginger, soy sauce, sea salt, black pepper, cooking oil, cooking wine.

Step one: clean and deseed the bitter melon. cut into 1/2″ chunks. chop the garlic and ginger finely, set aside. Slice pork into 1″ pieces, marinade with soy sauce, wine, salt and pepper. set aside.

Step three: in a dutch oven, lightly fry the melon with some oil and garlic. Cook to 50% done then place on a plate. You cook the veggies first so the pot does not get smoky.

Step four: in the same dutch oven, heat up oil and ginger, fry the pork when the pot is hot. cook until 70% done. Add in the semi-cooked melon, stir fry for 5 mins. Add more wine and salt if needed.

Step five: cover and simmer on low heat for 10 mins. Serve with rice and other vegetable dish.

Don’t be too hard on yourself if you or your family don’t love this dish. It is an acquired taste even among asians. The trick is to eat it so fast that it does not touch the base of your tongue, where the sensors for bitterness is located. There are some great health benefits from eating bitter melon. But most people eat it because they like it.

In Chinese we say “Neng Chi Ku” able to eat bitterness, a quality of resilience in the face of adversity. Clearly we can cultivate our characters in every aspects of our lives. If you can enjoy bitterness then you can find satisfaction in almost everything else.


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