KitchenTigress: Dry-Fried Bitter Gourd (干扁苦瓜)

Dry-Fried Bitter Gourd (干扁苦瓜)

Bitter gourds that are really bitter have hard, narrow ridges, and they're dark green. The less bitter ones have wide ridges, and they're softer, and more yellow.

The bitter gourds I cook are the big type that, over the years, have become less bitter. I used to sweat them before cooking but that's not necessary now.

I love frying the living daylights out of thinly sliced bitter gourd in a stonking hot wok. No water is adding during the cooking process. Water would cool down the wok.

The bitter gourd slices should be slightly charred. Ditto the egg. Ideally, the egg sticks to the wok a bit and burns. I scrape off the little bits of slightly burnt eggs which, along with garlic and caramelized light soya sauce, add to the fragrance from the charred bitter gourd.

(Recipe for 4 persons)

250 g bitter gourd (aka bitter melon), rinsed, trimmed and thinly sliced crosswise
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 big clove garlic, thinly sliced
1 tbsp light soya sauce
pinch of sugar
1 egg, beaten with ½ tsp light soya sauce

1. Spread out bitter gourd on a plate for 10-15 minutes so that it dries out a bit.

2. Heat wok (preferably not non-stick) till very hot. Add oil and heat till just smoking. Add garlic and stir to coat with oil. Do not brown. Add bitter gourd. Stir briefly, then spread out bitter gourd in the wok and let it fry, without stirring, till lightly brown. Turn over and fry till second side is also lightly brown. Drizzle with 1 tbsp light soya sauce and add pinch of sugar. Stir till soya sauce is absorbed. Drizzle with beaten egg. Wait a few seconds for the egg to turn slightly brown. Mix gently, scraping any egg that may be stuck to the wok.

3. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Plate and serve.