I've only recently posted about bitter melon but that recipe only got through half of it and at just over £6 for the vegetable I wasn't letting the other bit go to waste (even if the pointy end had gone a bit soft by the time I got around to it).
My first encounter with bitter melon was in stuffed form, the Chinese recipe where the gourd is sliced, the seeds are scraped out and the void is filled will minced pork and prawn before the meat and veg disks are cooked in black bean sauce. It's a lovely dish but Lizzie over on Hollow Legs has already blogged that so I thought I'd do something different, which looking at Lizzie's stuffing ingredients isn't actually that different. The starch thickened Chinese sauce is replaced with a punchy stock though which makes for a very moreish soup, the stock taking on flavours from both the vegetable and the stuffing, not to mention the big glug of fish sauce at the end.
If you're looking for provenance then I have eaten this in the middle of Vietnam and something very similar is served in Thailand too.
Stuffed Bitter Melon Soup
350gr bitter melon (half a decent sized one)
250gr minced pork
1 ts oyster sauce
1/2 ts salt
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 ts sugar
1/4ts white pepper
3-4 dried wood ear mushrooms, soaked
1.25 litres chicken stock, weak as it will reduce
1 TB fish sauce
Greens from two spring onions
Chop the bitter melon into three then scoop out the seeds, scraping the pith out with them. Give them a good coating in salt (not in ingredient's list) and leave in a colander or sieve over the sink for 15 minutes. This will help leech out some of the bitterness. Wash well and dry off.
Shred the reconstituted wood ear mushrooms then mix into the pork along with the oyster sauce, garlic, salt, sugar and white pepper. Stir well to combine, if you stir in one direction then the meat should come together and firm up.
Stuff each section of bitter melon with the pork and then place into the chicken stock, bring to the boil then simmering gently for 30-40 minutes till the bitter melon is tender and the pork cooked through. Top up the stock if it looks like it is reducing too much.
Place the stuffed bitter melon in three bowls then add the fish sauce to the stock before topping up each bowl. Before serving scatter the spring onion greens over the stuffed bitter melon soup.