In the Southern region, many families still keep the habit of cooking a large pot of stuffed bitter melon soup to eat repeatedly several times during Tet festival. “Khổ” means “hardships” and “qua” means “the past”. Therefore, they eat this dish to let all the bitterness and hardships be over and wish for a luckier new year. It is also a dish that is easy to consume and helps people get rid of hangovers and the fattiness in the dishes. But it was the traditional bitter melon soup of Head Chef Ngoc Nghia brought to a modern banquet table that became an inventive masterpiece. Thanks to it, Ngoc Nghia was praised by the chairman of the organizing committee: “With her inventive talent, Ngoc Nghia transforms a traditional dish that everyone knows how to cook into a fantastic dish to treat foreign guests”. The piece of bitter melon is beautiful, delicious and a nice mouthful, which is a good way to get access to many other global cuisines.
BITTER MELON STUFFED WITH PORK SPARERIB SOUPPrint This
- INGREDIENTS FOR THE BROTH
- 500g pork spareribs
- 1kg large bitter melons
- 100g featherback fish
- 200 black tiger prawns
- 60g black fungus soaked to swell
- 30g shallots
- 50g green onions
- 10g cilantro
- 2 liters water
- 8ml fish sauce
- 7g sugar
- 17g seasoning powder
- 4g salt
- 3g ground black pepper
- 5g rock sugar
Preparation: Clean the bitter melons thoroughly, cut it into rings, about 5cm thick, and then deseed them. Cut the spareribs into pieces, 7cm long. Remove the meat from bones, finely chop it, and set it aside. Poach the bones in boiling water and remove the remaining meat on them, set aside those bones. Clean the prawns well, peel and devein them, pat them dry and finely chop them. Finely chop the black fungus and shallots. Mince the green onion bulbs and finely chop its hollow green leaves.
Marinate the stuffing: Put the featherback fish into a bowl, add 10g shallots, 3ml fish sauce, 1g ground pepper, 2g seasoning powder, 2g sugar, and 1g salt. Mix them well until the fish becomes chewy. Add the remaining minced shallots, green onion bulbs, and chopped black fungus, 5g sugar, 5g seasoning powder, 3g salt, 5ml of fish sauce and 2g ground pepper to the minced pork spareribs and prawns, then toss to mix well. After that, add the featherback fish to mix until well combined.
Process: Pour 2 liters water into a pot and bring it to a boil. Stuff the fish paste into the bitter melon, and then insert the bone into the stuffing. Slide each ring of bitter melon into the boiling water, skim off the foam, add 10g seasoning powder, 5g rock sugar; reduce heat and slowcook it until soft. Add the hollow green onions and then turn off the heat.
Ladle out the bitter melon from the pot. Garnish with some cilantro. Serve hot with rice.
The bitter melon should be tender with a firm and chewy stuffing.
The soup should be sweet, elegant and pleasing to the palate.
The bitter melon should completely be submerged in water. If there is too little water, more boiling water should be added.
If you like, you may add a piece of red pepper to reduce the bitterness of the bitter melon.
When the soup is done, turn off the heat and add a spoonful of fish sauce to enhance the flavor. Only add the fish sauce after turning off the heat so that the soup won’t be sour.
EFFECTS OF THIS DISH
Bitter melons help reduce the body heat and eliminate toxins from the body, so this dish helps tonify Qi, nourish blood, strengthen the body resistance, relieve constipation, relieve pain, and add a lot of minerals and vitamins. It is helpful to those who have asthenic body syndrome, weakened immune systems, neurasthenia (nervous breakdown), osteoporosis, edema, constipation, diabetes, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol levels, and obesity; it is also good for children who are weak, have loss of appetite or skin rashes.
TRAN NGOC NGHIA Tien Loc Wedding Restaurant (Dong Nai Province) Runner-up in the Golden Spoon Awards 2013