Have you ever noticed a lumpy, oblong-shaped fruit with pointy ends in the produce section of your grocery? You might have had a peek at the bitter melon, also known by the name bitter gourd. It’s actually a close relation to the cucumber, pumpkin, squash, and zucchini families.
It may look different depending on which variety you get, and the one I have described is the Chinese version. The Indian version looks a bit different, with a jagged outer layer that is somewhat spiky in appearance.
It’s completely edible and known for its health benefits. The next time you see it in the grocery, you might want to give it a second look. You could be missing out on some great health benefits.
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What Bitter Melon Does for Your Health
There are some superb reasons to add bitter melon to your diet and look for bitter melon recipes online.
Improves Blood Sugar- Diabetics will use bitter melon to help get their blood sugar under control. This fruit is known to reduce blood sugar levels, so bitter melon recipes for diabetes is a popular search. While the fruit has been used for many years by indigenous peoples to treat diabetes and its symptoms, a few recent studies have supported that usage, touting the fruit’s ability to treat high blood sugar. Bitter melon actually works on blood sugar in a few ways, helping with the levels of ractopamine and hemoglobin A1c.
May Help with Cancer- Some of the research or bitter melon and its beneficial properties is in the early stages. That’s the case with studies regarding its cancer-fighting properties. There was one study that showed bitter melon was successful at fighting cancer cells in the stomach, lung, and colon, and another study showed promise in using bitter melon to fight breast cancer.
Full of Nutrients- This is also a fruit that is high in nutritional value. It is a good source of several vitamins, like vitamins A and C. Bitter melon is also rich in folate, which is important for development and growth. You can find zinc, iron, and potassium in bitter melon as well. With a food like this, you may be able to replace some of your daily vitamins supplements.
These are just some of the benefits, and there are others at well that I could get into, but I won’t cover every single benefit here. I urge you to do some research on the bitter melon and how helpful it is to your overall health. I think that after you do, you will be searching up recipes for bitter melon just to add it to your diet for health purposes alone rather than for what you can make with it.
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Recipes for Bitter Melon
I want to share with you one of the best bitter melon Japanese recipes I found which combines bitter melon with egg, tofu, and pork belly. It’s a dish that is often served with miso soup and steamed rice and makes for a very balanced meal.
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Vietnamese Bitter Melon Soup
For this savoury, hearty soup, you will scoop out the interior of the bitter melon and cut it into empty cylinders. You need to then stuff minced pork, black fungus, and bean thread noodles inside the bitter melon rinds, along with whatever seasonings you are using. Salt, pepper, sugar, and fish sauce are all most people will use to make this soup.
You just boil it all together in water, creating a thin soup that is one of the best Vietnamese bitter melon recipes you’ll find, and it is definitely a dish with a unique look. I have never seen anything quite like it.
You can blanch the bitter melon ahead of time, if you like, which gets rid of the bitterness, but that seems pointless to me. Why make bitter melon soup without any bitterness? I say try it while it still retains its bitterness and see how you like it first. If you don’t, then try it after balancing the bitter melon. Most bitter melon soup recipes are made with a thin broth like this one.
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Here is another stir fry that I really enjoy. It’s one of the bitter melon recipes Filipino food experts recommend trying, and it combines egg, tomato, shrimp, and bitter melon.
My tip for minimising the bitterness in this dish (which really does come out in a stir fry) is to choose younger and greener melon. The older the melon is, the bitterer it becomes. Also, don’t stir the dish too much while it is cooking and don’t cook it for too long.
Mix a little fish sauce, salt, and pepper in your stir fry to give it more flavour, as well as a little sugar to sweeten. This dish uses thin strips of bitter melon and scrambled eggs to make for savoury food where every bite is bite size.
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If you want to use jumbo shrimp with this dish, then be sure to chop them up so they can be easier to eat in smaller bites. You’re trying to get as many different flavours in each bite as possible, so keeping all of your ingredients chopped up small is the way to go. This is one of my favourite bitter melon recipes vegetarian cooks will enjoy, but you can add meat to it as well, if you like, and it tastes just fine when you substitute the shrimp for mushrooms if you prefer no seafood.
If you are looking for bitter melon recipes Indian that aren’t very difficult to make and don’t require tons of spices, then I would recommend this one. Few recipes bitter melon is used on will taste sweet, so be aware of what you are getting yourself into. It is called bitter melon for a reason. Karela Indian bitter melon recipes are particularly bitter, and they may be an acquired taste for most.
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Mix together avocado oil, bitter melon slices, Kashmiri chilli powder, turmeric, salt, and pepper, and a sliced onion, all in a
Bitter Melon and Black Bean Beef
This dish is widely served throughout China and is one of the more common Chinese bitter melon recipes. It starts with balance bitter melon, cooked in boiling water for two minutes and then placed into an ice bath.
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Mix together corn starch, soy sauce, and baking soda to make a marinade for the beef. Then, coat the beef in that sauce and let it rest in the fridge for about an hour. From there, heat up your beef in a skillet with some garlic powder, onion, and ginger. This is one of the simpler bitter melon recipes Chinese people use, and you may even find it served in restaurants.
I hope these recipe inspire you to at least try bitter melon and explore some of the great ways this unique fruit is used. Even if you aren’t thrilled about the flavour experience, you might get excited about the health benefits.