Have you ever tried bitter melon before? If you are new to bitter melon and need a gentle introduction on how to prepare one, this easy bitter melon egg frittata may be the perfect recipe to try.
Salt is key to remove bitterness
Bitter melon, as its name implies, is bitter. So how do you prepare them so they taste delicious? The key is salt, and here is how to prepare your bitter melon.
Cut the bitter melon into two halves along its length (not width).
Use a spoon to scoop out all the seeds and fibrous part of the melon.
Cut into 1/2 inch pieces.
Place the bitter melon pieces in a mixing bowl + 1 teaspoon salt. Massage and set aside for 15 minutes.
Wash under cold running water, and drain thoroughly.
Eggs + stock
The second trick to creating this delicious dish is adding stock to your eggs. You can omit the stock if you wish, but the stock helps create a fluffier frittata. I don’t know about you, but I love it when my frittata is fluffy. Plus, the stock adds so much depth to the egg it is just silly not to use it. You can use chicken stock, dashi, mushroom stock, or vegetable stock. If you don’t have stock, I would still highly suggest adding the same amount of water instead of just plain egg.
This frittata is great as is, but you can always add garnishes to push it over the top. My standard garnish for this frittata is thinly sliced scallions and nanami togarashi. If you have them in your pantry, I highly suggest adding furikake and katsuobushi.
Bitter melon is one of the vegetables I start to like as I grow older. I was not a fan when I was still a kid, and my Mom had a tough time convincing us to eat any of her bitter melon dishes.
Any child tends to dislike bitter food, but our palette changes over time. This dislike of bitter melon at a young age is similar to coffee. I didn’t love coffee when I was a kid, but I can’t survive without it when I become an adult.
If you didn’t like bitter melons when you were a kid, you may be surprised that you now love this vegetable as an adult. I will also teach you how to reduce the bitterness from the melon so it will be easier for the palette.
Ingredients for bitter melon and egg stir-fry in black bean sauce
dried red chilies
fermented black beans
My Asian market almost always stocks fresh bitter melons. A packet usually contains two to three bitter melons. There are a variety of bitter melons, and you want to select the one you see in the photo.
The texture of bitter melon is similar to chayote or even a cucumber. The meat is crunchy, and for stir-fried dishes, we want the bitter melon to retain its crunchiness even after cooking.
Fermented black beans
The backbone of Chinese black bean sauce is fermented black beans. You can buy ready-made black bean sauce in a jar, but I think it is more economical to buy a packet of fermented black beans and make the sauce ourselves.
TIPS: If you are using bottled black bean sauce, replace fermented black beans, oyster sauce, and soy sauce with 1 tablespoon of black bean sauce.
How to prepare bitter melon to reduce its bitterness
Start by cutting a bitter melon in half lengthwise.
Use a spoon to scoop out the fibrous center and the seeds.
Cut into thin slices or as directed by your particular recipe.
Rub bitter melon with plenty of salt and rest for 15 minutes.
Rinse bitter melon under running water to remove all the salt.
The salt will reduce the bitterness from the bitter melon, but be sure to rinse them under running water to remove all the salt from the vegetable.
How to cook bitter melon and egg stir-fry in black bean sauce
I. Prep work
Follow my guide above to prepare the bitter melon.
Rinse fermented black beans with cold water to remove the salt. Drain well and set aside.
Lightly beat eggs with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Set aside.
Heat a wok with medium-high heat. Once the wok is hot, add 2 tablespoons of oil and swirl to coat the wok.
Add minced garlic, dried red chilies, and fermented black beans. Fry for 30 seconds or until fragrant.
Add bitter melon and season with soy sauce and oyster sauce. Cook for 2 minutes. TIPS: If using jarred black bean sauce, add bitter melon and a tablespoon of black bean sauce.
Pour eggs over the bitter melon. Once the eggs start to set, stir with a spatula until completely set.
Turn off the heat and transfer the dish to a serving plate. Serve immediately with steamed white rice.
Other bitter melon recipes to try
If you love this dish, you may want to try these bitter melon recipes: