Bitter melon (khổ qua in Vietnamese) is a part of many cultures and cuisines. In India, deep fried bitter melon rings (karela) are a common dish. Vietnamese people use the smoother variety of bitter melon, and the vegetable is often prepared steamed or in a broth. In this particular preparation, I filled the bitter melon with tofu, bean thread noodles and wood ear mushrooms, but you could definitely use chicken or pork. I typically pair mine with rice, but you can also serve a simple vegetable broth if you prefer.
This dish is usually cooked for the Tết holiday as its name: ”bitter” reminds people not to forget or disrespect the poor living condition experienced in the past.
Eating shouldn’t be a chore, so if you’re a little put off by the description, I understand. The taste is very unusual but I think this dish really does taste great though, so I urge you to give it a try.
1. Info for Stuffed Bitter Melon (Kho Qua)
- Cook Time: unavailable
- Total Time: unavailable
- Servings: 8
- Calories: unavailable
2. Ingredients for Stuffed Bitter Melon (Kho Qua)
- 4 fresh bitter melons
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 2 (12-ounces) packages firm tofu
- 2 teaspoon canola oil
- 2 shallots, finely diced
- 1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
- 1 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon green onions, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste (see tips), finely minced
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 cup mung beans
- 4 wood ear mushrooms, sliced
- 1 teaspoon mushroom seasoning salt (or regular salt)
- 2 ounces dried bean thread noodles
- 1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
- Prepping the bitter melons: Cut the bittermelons in half. Using a melon ball scoop, remove and discard the spongy center and the seeds. Soak the bitter melons in lemon water.
- Prepping the tofu: Cut the tofu into 1/2-inch slices. Blanch the tofu for about 3-4 minutes in salted hot water. Drain the liquid. Let the tofu cool a little. Then mash the boiled tofu with your hands using disposable gloves. The tofu should resemble large-sized cottage cheese curds. Set the tofu aside.
- Prepping the bean thread noodles: Place the dried bean thread noodles in a bowl. Don’t forget to cut the little cotton threads and discard them! Soak them in cold water for 20 minutes and drain. Cut into 1 inch lengths. Set aside.
- Making mung bean paste: Place the mung beans in a small saucepan, barely cover with water, then slowly cook for about 30 minutes. It will form a dry paste. Set aside.
- Assembly time: In a large bowl, combine the tofu, bean thread noodles, mung bean paste, cilantro, ginger garlic paste, shallots, onions, green onions, sugar and wood ear mushrooms. Season with mushroom seasoning salt and pepper.
- Remove and discard the liquid from the bitter melons. Pat them dry and stuff them with the tofu mixture.
- Place the stuffed bitter melons in a steamer, bring the water to a boil and reduce the heat to medium-high. Cover and steam for about 30-40 minutes. Check doneness with a fork; the bitter melons should be soft and tender but still firm (not fall apart). Remove from the steamer. Let them cool a little.
- I served them with brown (for a healthier version) jasmine rice. You can also make a vegetable broth (see tips).