But I grew up eating the stuff. My parents would hail the medicinal qualities of the melon and insist that we eat at least five pieces before leaving the dinner table. From reading the Wikipedia article, you would think that it was a drug and not something to be enjoyed. I did hate it as a kid, but over time the aromatic combination of the pork and fermented black beans began to feel natural, almost heightened, with the bitterness of the bitter melon. One extreme brought out another.
|fermented black beans, minced ginger, minced garlic|
Even so, the bitterness needs to be alleviated somewhat. The typical method is to salt the melon slices to draw out the water and some of the bitterness. Adding sugar to the salt will help as well. When I first began to prepare bitter melon on my own, I would add a lot of sugar, but I've found myself adding less and less with each preparation. Chinese fermented black beans (actually soy beans that have been salted and fermented), minced ginger and minced garlic provide the stage for the meat and melon.
Every time I see bitter melon at the Dekalb Farmer's Market, I want to buy some, but it takes a special craving to legitimize the purchase without the risk of forgetting them in the fridge. That craving happens maybe once a year, haha.