Monday, August 30, 2010

Bitter Melons!

Some CSA shareholders received bitter melons in their shares today from Shady Pine Farm! The staff here at the Co-op thought that we should provide you with a little more information about this beautiful (though perhaps strange-looking) fruit:

Native to humid, tropical climates, bitter melons are widely grown in India, Southeast Asia, China, Africa, and the Caribbean for medicinal and culinary purposes. As a medicinal, bitter melon is said to be tonic, stomachic, and carminative and is used as an herbal remedy for rheumatism, gout, and diseases of the liver and spleen. To remove the bitterness, scoop out the seeds and boil the gourd in salt water. Bitter melons are great for curries and stir-fries—try out the recipes below and let us know what you think! Or send in your own recipes to the CSA email or in the comments section below.

The following recipe is from Indonesian Food and Cookery by Sri Owen:

Pelecing Peria
Serves 4

3 to 4 bitter melons
6 red hot chilies
3 candlenuts (can be substituted with raw peanuts, macadamia nuts, etc.)
2 cloves garlic
1 piece terasi (shrimp paste, available at Thai shops)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
juice of 1 lime

Cut the gourds lengthwise in half, take out the seeds, and then slice like cucumbers. Put the slices into a colander, sprinkle liberally with salt and leave for at least 30 minutes. Wash under cold running water before boiling for 3 minutes with a little salt. Pound the chilies, nuts, garlic, and terasi in a mortar until smooth. Heat the oil in a pan and fry for about 1 minute. Add the gourd and stir-fry for 2 minutes; season with salt and lime juice. Serve hot or cold.

A few more bitter melon recipes:

Check out these links for more ideas:

Bitter Melon Pork Stir-Fry from Serious Eats:

Bitter Melon Shrimp Stir-Fry from Home Chinese Recipes:

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