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Stuffed Bitter Melon {Chinese Ku Gua Niang Rou}

by Shirley

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Stuffed Bitter Melon {Chinese Style Ku Gua Niang Rou 苦瓜酿肉}

Stuffed Bitter Melon {Chinese Style Ku Gua Niang Rou 苦瓜酿肉} is a traditional home cooking in Southern China. It features bitter melon, cut into short tubes, filled with juicy and delicious minced pork. Such a perfect way to enjoy this nutritious gourd.

Stuffed Bitter Melon {Chinese Style Ku Gua Niang Rou 苦瓜酿肉}
Stuffed Bitter Melon {Chinese Style Ku Gua Niang Rou 苦瓜酿肉}

Bitter Melon Fun Facts

Bitter Melon is a gourd native to many locations around the globe, and is especially popular in areas such as Southern China Guang Dong area, India and Vietnam. The gourd gets its name from its bitter taste.

Bitter Melon Growing on the Vine in our garden
Bitter Melon Growing on the Vine in our garden

Why Bitter Melon is a superfood vegetable?

Bitter Melon contains loads of essential vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Folate, potassium, zinc and iron. It worth mentioning that Bitter Melon contains rich Vitamin C.

Especially, Bitter Melon is well-known for its ability to lower blood sugar. For that reason, people consider bitter melon an alternative medicine to treat diabetes-related conditions.

Read here to learn more about Bitter Melon and how to make it less bitter.

How to prepare Bitter Melon for Stuffed Bitter Melon?

First thing first is to cut bitter melon across into tubes and remove pith

Trim both ends off bitter melon, and then cut across into short tubes, about 1.5 inches tall. Then remove the pith using a small spoon. Scrape to remove pith thoroughly. This is technique #1 to help mitigate bitter melon bitterness.

Cut bitter melon across into tubes and then remove pith for stuffed bitter melon
Cut bitter melon across into tubes and then remove pith for stuffed bitter melon

Second is to marinate the bitter melon with salt

Following that, sprinkle one teaspoonful of salt, either Himalayan pink salt or sea salt, over the bitter melon. Try to massage/scrub the inside of the bitter melon. Then let them rest while you are preparing pork filling. This is technique #2 to mitigate bitter melon bitterness.

After you have made the pork filling, then come back to bitter melon. First rinse the bitter melon thoroughly using cold water. This is to get rid of the bitter juice coming out of the bitter melon, but also to rinse off the excess salt. This is technique #3 to mitigate bitter melon bitterness.

Third is to blanch bitter melon with white vinegar

Please rinse them thoroughly even if you think you can use the extra salt. This is because salt has forced out the bitter juice and you absolutely want to rinse off the bitter juice.

Bring a stockpot of water to boil and then add 1/4 cup of white vinegar along with bitter melon tubes. Blanch for about 1 minute or till it reaches a boil again. This is technique #4 to mitigate bitter melon bitterness. The blanch, coupled with the white vinegar, will further tone down the bitterness.

Blanch bitter melon with white vinegar
Blanch bitter melon with white vinegar

Remove the bitter melon using a skimmer into a colander and immediately rinse under the running cold water for about 30 seconds. Place the colander onto a plate to drain the water and set aside.

Now the bitter melon is ready for stuffing.

Rinse blanched bitter melon under running cold water

How to make a naturally tasty and juicy pork filling for stuffed bitter melon?

First is to use the right ground pork.

Ideally, we shall use minced pork for the ultimate tasty pork. The pork also needs to contain a certain level of fat for the juiciness. Both can be accomplished easily if you grind the pork at home using either a meat grinder or Stand Mixer meat grinding attachment.

Read here for a detailed guided recipe on how to grind a perfect pork at home.

Home Ground Pork for juicy delicious dumpling fillings, meatballs and more
Home Ground Pork for juicy delicious pork fillings, meatballs and more

Second is to marinate and season the pork properly

Marinate the pork with Shaoxing wine, naturally aged soy sauce, light soy sauce, Zhenjiang Vinegar, arrowroot flour, minced green onion and a bit of organic cane sugar.

Marinating Ingredients for ground pork

Then add ginger powder, star anise powder and freshly ground coriander seeds to further season and elevate the taste.

Minced Bian Jian, or salted tender bamboo shoots, adds the contrasting texture and taste, a highlight of the pork filling. You can also use dried shiitake mushrooms instead.

Seasoning Ingredients for Ground Pork

Third is to turn the ground pork along with marinating and seasoning ingredients into juicy pork filling

Use a wooden spatula to breakdown the pork and then turn in the same direction to mix everything together. After that, swiftly turn the spatula continuously until the whole thing turns into a juicy pork paste. Use a mini silicone spatula to scrape off the mixing bowl.

Add 1 tbsp of water at a time while churning the pork to allow the pork to absorb the liquid for the ultimate juiciness. The pork filling needs to be moist, but it can’t be too watery, otherwise it won’t stay well inside the bitter melon well.

How to make a perfect Stuffed Bitter Melon with Minced Pork?

First is to fill the prepared bitter melon tubes with pork filling using a small spoon with pointy end

Hold one bitter melon tube in your left hand, or less dominant hand, while right hand holding a small spoon. Fill the bitter melon tube with the pork filling, using the spoon’s pointy end to push around the edge to contain the pork filling.

Fill the bitter melon tubes with pork filling using a small spoon for stuffed bitter melon

Your left hand palm also holds the bottom of the bitter melon so that the pork filling doesn’t just fall through. After you have stuffed one bitter melon tube, then carefully put down on a plate. Repeat this until you have done stuffing all bitter melon tubes.

Freshly stuffed bitter melon with minced pork

Second is to pan sear the stuffed Bitter Melon

You will need a quality hard anodized fry-pan. Turn the heat to medium and heat the fry pan for 1 minute. Then add 1/2 tbsp avocado oil or alternative cooking oil, along with sliced ginger, minced garlic and chopped green onion, stir for 10 seconds or till fragrant.

Carefully place the stuffed bitter melon onto the frying pan, one at a time, and let it cook for 2 minutes. Flip the bitter melon using a pair of long chopsticks or kitchen tongs and cook the other side for 2 minutes.

Sear Stuffed Bitter Melon

Last but not least is to add 1 cup of boiling water and steam for 15 minutes

Following the pan searing the bitter melon on both sides, pour one cup of boiling water around the edge of the pan, cover with a lid and let it steam for 15 minutes.

After that, flip the bitter melon so that the previous bottom facing up, cover the lid and let it rest for 2 minutes before serving.

All done! Enjoy a nutrious and tasty Stuffed Bitter Melon with Minced Pork.

Stuffed Bitter Melon with Minced Pork {Chinese Style Ku Gua Niang Rou 苦瓜酿肉}
Stuffed Bitter Melon with Minced Pork {Chinese Style Ku Gua Niang Rou 苦瓜酿肉}

Like Bitter Melon? Remember to check out these tasty and healthy Bitter Melon Recipes:

Stuffed Bitter Melon {Chinese Style Ku Gua Niang Rou 苦瓜酿肉}

Stuffed Bitter Melon {Chinese Ku Gua Niang Rou 苦瓜酿肉}

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 22 minutes
Total Time: 52 minutes

Stuffed Bitter Melon {Chinese Style Ku Gua Niang Rou 苦瓜酿肉} is a traditional home cooking in Southern China. It features bitter melon, cut into short tubes, filled with juicy and delicious minced pork. Such a perfect way to enjoy this nutritious gourd.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lb bitter melon, about 3 bitter melons, using 1 tsp Himalayan pink salt to marinate the bitter melon
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar, for blanching the bitter melon
  • 1 stalk green onion, chopped
  • 1 small piece of ginger, thin sliced
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tbsp avoacado oil

For Pork Filling:

  • 1/2 lb ground pork, home ground pork preferred
  • 1/2 tbsp Shaoxing wine,
  • 1.5 tbsp naturally aged soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp Zhenjiang Vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp arrowroot flour
  • 1/4 tsp organic cane sugar
  • 1/8 tsp tsp star anise powder
  • 1/4 tsp coriander seeds powder, freshly ground
  • 1/4 tsp ginger powder
  • 1 stalk green onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp water, room temperature
  • 1 Bian Jian {salted tender bamboo shoots}, or 6 dried shiitake mushrooms, fully rehydrated and then chopped into small pieces

Instructions

Prepare Bitter Melon and Other Ingredients Part 1:

  • Soak Bian Jian or Shiitake mushooms in plenty of water, at least 3 hours before cooking.
  • Trim both ends off bitter melon, and then cut across into short tubes, about 1.5 inches tall. Then remove the pith using a small spoon. Scrape to remove pith thoroughly. 
    Cut bitter melon across into tubes and then remove pith for stuffed bitter melon
  • Sprinkle one teaspoonful of salt, either Himalayan pink salt or sea salt, over the bitter melon. Try to massage/scrub the inside of the bitter melon. Then let them rest while you are preparing pork filling.

Preparation Part 2:

    • Rinse Bian Jian or shiitake mushrooms a few times. Chop the Bian Jian into small pieces using a compact grinder.
    • After you have made the pork filling, then come back to bitter melon. First rinse the bitter melon thoroughly using cold water. 
    • Fill a 4 Qt. stockpot with about 80% water and bring it to a boil. Add 1/4 cup of white vinegar along with bitter melon tubes. Blanch for about 1 minute or till it reaches a boil again. 
      Blanch bitter melon with white vinegar
    • Remove the bitter melon using a skimmer into a colander and immediately rinse under the running cold water for about 30 seconds. Place the colander onto a plate to drain the water and set aside.

      • Now the bitter melon is ready for stuffing.

    Make a juicy tasty pork filling for Stuffed Bitter Melon:

    • Use homeground pork if you can. Add the pork into a mixing bowl, along with everything under "For the Pork Filling".
      Ground Pork along with marinating and seasoning ingredients in the mixing bowl
    • Use a wooden spatula to breakdown the pork and then turn in the same direction to mix everything together. After that, swiftly turn the spatula continuously until the whole thing turns into a juicy pork paste. Use a mini silicone spatula to scrape off the mixing bowl.

    Add 1 tbsp of water while churning the pork to allow the pork to absorb the liquid for the ultimate juiciness. The pork filling needs to be moist, but it can’t be too watery, otherwise it won’t stay well inside the bitter melon well.

Stuff the Bitter Melon:

Hold one bitter melon tube in your left hand, or less dominant hand, while right hand holding a small spoon. Fill the bitter melon tube with the pork filling, using the spoon’s pointy end to push around the edge to contain the pork filling.
Fill the bitter melon tubes with pork filling using a small spoon for stuffed bitter melon

Your left hand palm also holds the bottom of the bitter melon so that the pork filling doesn’t just fall through. After you have stuffed one bitter melon tube, then carefully put down on a plate. Repeat this until you have done stuffing all bitter melon tubes.
Freshly stuffed bitter melon with minced pork

Pan Sear Stuffed Bitter Melon:

  • Turn the heat to medium and heat the fry pan for 1 minute. Then add 1/2 tbsp avocado oil or alternative cooking oil, along with sliced ginger, minced garlic and chopped green onion, stir for 10 seconds or till fragrant.

Carefully place the stuffed bitter melon onto the frying pan, one at a time, and let it cook for 2 minutes. Flip the bitter melon using a pair of long chopsticks or kitchen tongs and cook the other side for 2 minutes.
Sear Stuffed Bitter Melon

Steam Stuffed Bitter Melon:

  • Following the pan searing the bitter melon on both sides, pour one cup of boiling water around the edge of the pan, cover with a lid and let it steam for 15 minutes.
  • After that, flip the bitter melon so that the previous bottom facing up, cover the lid and let it rest for 2 minutes before serving.

All done! Enjoy a nutrious and tasty Stuffed Bitter Melon with Minced Pork.
Stuffed Bitter Melon {Chinese Style Ku Gua Niang Rou 苦瓜酿肉}

Notes

Read here on how to make a home ground pork.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 371Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 78mgSodium: 870mgCarbohydrates: 23gFiber: 8gSugar: 7gProtein: 26g

Nutrition calculation is provided by Nutritionix to the best knowledge per ingredients description and isn't always accurate.

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