Friday, June 10, 2011

Bitter Melon and Beef

I had quite a weekend a while back and my friend, Steph, the earth-to-plate food master, suggested a concoction of bitter melon, cucumber, green apple and some other stuff in order to detoxify myself. Raw bitter melon. For some reason, Asian grocery stores no longer sell bitter melon one by one, instead they sell them packaged in threes or fours. Annoying. I love bitter melon (cooked) so I decided to make a favourite of mine for lunch. Oh, I haven't tried the concoction yet.

1 piece of beef, a bit bigger than my hand, I buy the cheapest steak I can find, usually. If you like more meat, go for it. If you like less, you can do that, too.
2 medium bitter melons

2 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tsp light soy sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1.5 tsp honey
1 tbsp Shao-Hsing wine, a cooking wine that you can get in the Asian grocery store. It has a red label.
1.5 tsp sesame oil
1.5 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup water

1 tbsp fermented black beans, rinsed and drained
3 cloves garlic, chopped

Let's do it!
Bitter Melon:
Chop off the sharp ends and slice in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop out all the seeds and pith. Slice diagonally into thin slices. Sprinkle with salt liberally and put in a strainer for 30 minutes while you prepare the other stuff.

After the 30 minutes, rinse off the salt and squeeze the excess liquid out. Boil some water and blanch the melon for a couple of minutes to get even more of the bitterness out. Strain and rinse with cold water. Now it's ready to go.

Mix together all the stuff in the middle group of ingredients except for the cornstarch and water. Take the beef and tenderize with a meat hammer (which I didn't do, but wish I did). Slice thinly and mix into the marinade and stick in the fridge until you're all done with the winter melon prep.

Putting it all together:
Heat some oil in a wok. When it swirls around the wok quickly, add the black beans and garlic. It WILL splatter, so make sure you're wearing pants or at least an apron. Trust me on this one. Add the beef without the marinade and mix well. After a couple of minutes, add the bitter melon and mix well. Mix up the cornstarch, water and marinade until the cornstarch is all dissolved. Add this to the mix and stir fry until the mixture thickens. Taste and adjust for saltiness/sweetness.

Serve over rice and enjoy the detoxifying effects of the bitter melon.

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