So I had my first encounter w/ bitter melon last night. Call it more of a tussle. The ugly wrinkled gourd that I battled w/ last night is pictured below. Having never eaten or cooked w/ it before, I picked one up at the Asian produce stall on a whim. This looked pretty compared to the really funkily-pocked Indian bitter melons sitting next to it.
Perhaps my subconscious fear of this beast caused me to bury it in the veggie drawer on Sat., not to be unearthed til last night. Radicchio is bitter, but isn't called "bitter radicchio." So something actually known as "bitter melon" must pack a punch. And boy, did it!
I tasted it raw to know what I was dealing with here. Once my teeth penetrated the flesh and extracted a tiny bit of juice, bitterness permeated my entire mouth. I didn't have too much time to comb the web for recipes, but did see some interesting ones of Thai, Chinese, and Vietnamese origin. I had some other things I needed to use up, so went w/ my own Thai-style curry concoction that included Japanese eggplant along w/ spices, coconut milk, and herbs. I salted the seeded melon first and let it sit for a while to extract some liquid before rinsing, hoping that this would mellow the bitterness. I read about blanching, but was lazy and noted comments about this detracting from the texture.
In the end, the dish looked very appetizing, but was, for the most part, a loss. My husband couldn't eat anymore past two bites. I was only able to eat a couple pieces of melon, while the eggplant and curry sauce were edible w/ a hint of bitterness. Optimistically, I wrapped it up for today, but have a feeling it will be all chucked soon. Fortunately, I made a back up dish last night that was very simple and tasty...an omelette w/ crumbled tofu and scallions! Husband said it reminded him of soft eggs w/ brain from his childhood. So he can eat brain but no bitter melon.
Sorry for this long story, but I needed to vent and lick my wounds. So...does anyone actually like the taste of bitter melon and cook w/ these potent creatures at home? I'm not totally ready to give up on them since I feel like they have alot of potential w/ the right coaxing and treatment. They apparently have wonderful health properties. See link for some general info. Thanks for any tips and recipes!