Written by Julien Clark
Bitter melon — also known as bitter gourd — is a tropical vine that belongs to the gourd family and is closely related to zucchini, squash, and cucumber.
While it is found all around the world it is considered most prized in many types of Asian cuisine.
In addition to its sharp flavor and distinct appearance, bitter melon has been associated with several impressive health benefits. Bitter Melon is a great source of key nutrients like Vitamin C, A, & Folate, while being low carb and low calorie. Bitter melon is also a source of catechin, gallic acid, epicatechin, and chlorogenic acid — powerful antioxidant compounds that can help protect your cells against damage. Thanks to its potent medicinal properties, bitter melon has long been used in ancient medicine to help treat diabetes-related conditions. Bitter melon is thought to improve the way that sugar is used in your tissues and promote the secretion of insulin, the hormone responsible for regulating blood sugar levels.*
More research continues to uncover data on the benefits of this AMAZING superfood. Personally it has aided in my weight management and staving off that "HANGRY" feeling.
Here are a few ways you can try it TODAY:
Juice it b*tch!
Mix bitter melon into your next stir-fry.
Garnish a savory salad with raw slices of bitter melon.
Stuff with ground meat and vegetables - almost like a twist on a stuffed bell pepper!
BUT THIS is my favorite - CANH KHO QUA - or simply - Stuffed Bitter Melon Soup
PREP: 15 MINS COOK: 35 MINS TOTAL: 35 MINS SERVINGS: 4-6
4 bitter melons 5-6″ long or 3 bitter melons 8″ long
1 lb ground pork
1 medium onion - approx. 2/3 cup chopped
1 pack of dried mung bean or rice vermicelli noodles chopped. ~1 cup hydrated
2 teaspoon sugar or desired sweetener (i.e. stevia, agave, monk fruit...)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 tablespoon fish sauce
7-8 cups broth
Sugar or desired sweetener and salt for seasoning the broth.
Green onion chopped
Soak noodles in hot water until soft. About 10 minutes. Drain and rinse well with cold water.
Cut a slit along each bitter melon and remove the seeds with a spoon. Sometimes it just wont open properly so you’ll need to split the melon in half lengthwise and just add the filling. You can also cut across the body of the bitter melon into 2-3 pieces, remove seeds, and fill (method pictured above). The aesthetic is your choice!
Bring the broth to a boil in a pot on high heat, but put aside about 1 cup for adjusting seasoning.
Add the stuffed bitter melons
Turn heat down to reach a low boil, simmer for 30-35 minutes until bitter melons are fork-tender.
The water will have slightly evaporated and the stuffing will have released flavor into the broth, so taste, add salt and sugar to your liking if needed, or add more hot water or broth to dilute.
Remove bitter melons.
Garnish with cilantro and green onion, serve with broth.
While this recipe is usually enjoyed in Vietnam different variations of the recipe can be enjoyed in neighboring countries such as Cambodia and Laos. I personally was taught how to make this recipe while living with a Lao family in the North Atlanta suburbs. Not only is this recipe healthy, but it evokes wonderful memories of good times I had with my Lao family.
We still get together from time to time and enjoy this exact meal amongst many others!
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This food/supplement is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.