bitter gourd soup

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This must be a season for bitter gourd as I noticed the asian groceries have an abundant supply of them on sale recently.  I love bitter gourd and it is my favorite vegetable since childhood.  I have to say that it is an acquired taste and usually people don’t like them because of the slightly bitter taste ( and therefore it is named.) 

I used to eat them frequently because my mom told me that they are good for me.  When I was younger I had a very serious nose bleed problem  and the older women in my clan had given me so many different “cures” to fix my problem.  Any where from having a crushed kumquat leave stuck in my nose to chewing raw lotus root I had tried them all.  One of them was bitter gourd.  I don’t know whose idea it was, but I was told that the liquid used in blanching bitter gourd has a medicinal purpose and so I had to drink this bitter-tasting “soup” every time my mom cooked it for the family.  

I remember the first time I had it I almost spat it out because it tasted so bad, and after being scolded by the adults I swallowed it reluctantly.  For some strange reason I still cannot figure, after the first incident bitter gourd became my favorite.  As I look back on my first experience with this veggie I realized that as a child I really was not the brightest bulb in the box !

When I came across this recipe in Pig Pig’s corner, I was very interested as it brought back fond memories from my childhood.  I am always looking for different ways to cook this  strange-looking vegetable and I could not wait to try this recipe out.   So the other day when I saw how fresh and cheap they are, I had to buy a couple to try it out.    The verdict–it is so good !!   Who would have thought that bitter gourd can make such yummy soup, it is so different from the bland, bitter tasting stuff that I had before. 

So here is the recipe, if you like bitter gourd you really should try this out you will be pleasantly surprised. 

Ingredients:

  • 750 g chicken pieces ( I used pork bones instead)
  • 500 g bitter gourd – cut into pieces
  • 1 large carrot – peeled and cut into chunks
  • 5 dried Chinese mushrooms
  • 1 handful Yu-zhu/Yuk-chuk (玉竹)
  • A handful dried scallops
  • 6 cups water
  • Salt

Directions:

  • Cut bitter gourd into half lengthwise. Remove/ scoop out all the seeds and white spongy stuff. Cut into pieces.
  • Place all ingredients in a pot. Cook under pressure for 45 mins. Leave to cool on its own. [if not using a pressure cooker, you can simmer it for at least 2 hrs.]
  • Season with salt.

 

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