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How to Prepare Bitter Melon (Foo Gwa)
While bitter melon is one of our favorite Chinese vegetables, like cilantro, it’s an acquired taste! Here are simple tips for preparing bitter melon to use in stir-fries and other Chinese dishes. If you're a real fan of this veggie, you can skip parboiling the melon, which is designed to make its distinct flavor less overpowering.Continue to 2 of 6 below.
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Cut the Bitter Melon
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cut the ends off the bitter melon and cut in half lengthwise. Do not peel it, the skin is edible. If you don't plan on parboiling your bitter melons, you can skip boiling the water.Continue to 3 of 6 below.
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Remove the Seeds
Remove the seeds and white pith from the middle of the melon with a small spoon.Continue to 4 of 6 below.
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Slice the Bitter Melon
Cut the melon diagonally into thin, 1/4-inch slices.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
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Parboiling the Melon
Place the sliced bitter melon in the boiling water and parboil until it is just tender (two to three minutes). Then drain it. Parboiling partially cooks bitter melon as well as reducing its strong bitter taste. If you skip this step, you'll want to stir-fry the bitter melon longer: about three minutes, until it begins to soften.Continue to 6 of 6 below.
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Using Bitter Melon
Add the bitter melon in the last stages of stir-frying. In this recipe for pork with bitter melon, it is stir-fried for a minute and then simmered with pork and Chinese black beans in chicken broth. The pronounced flavor of the black beans helps counteract bitter melon’s strong taste. Bitter melon can also be steamed. A popular dish consists of stuffing the bitter melon with a mixture of ground pork and seasonings, then steaming it for 20 minutes and topping with a sauce made with Chinese black beans.