It’s been a while since I’ve made bitter melon soup. I can’t even remember the last time I made it but it was probably over a decade ago. This time I decided to follow this recipe on Youtube. I’m not a huge fan of the super bitterness of the bitter melon so to draw some of that bitterness out, after I removed the seeds, I soaked the melon in salt water for about ten minutes.
I didn’t have all the ingredients from the recipe so I used what I had on hand: lemongrass, garlic, scallions, cilantro, and mint. I had some Thai peppers on hand so I used a few of them for a touch of heat.
Everything was chopped up and mixed with ground beef before stuffing the melons which I’d cut into thirds. Whatever was leftover from the pork mix, I made into little meatballs. With the peppers, I simply cooked it with the soup.
The soup turned out pretty good. My high-schooler really liked the meatballs but didn’t care for the bitter melon. My husband and my other daughter didn’t care for the soup. I guess this is why I rarely made this dish.
There are many ways to cook bitter melon but I grew up eating it as a soup so it’s what I’m familiar with. Mom would also make it stir-fry, I believe. I’ll have to try stir-frying next time. Have you had bitter melon soup or stir-fried? What did you think?
In the past I’ve posted about laab before but it’s one of my favorite asian dishes so I thought I’d take new photos and share my process a little differently.
Laab is a spicy chicken, beef, pork, or fish dish usually eaten with lettuce and/or rice. The main spices used to create the flavor are: hot peppers, lemon grass, ginger, galanga, and roasted uncooked white rice. It can be time consuming chopping and roasting the rice and all and sometimes I don’t mind doing that but when I’m short on time or I’m just craving laab way too much, I reach for the seasoning mix. You can buy this mix at pretty much any Asian market.
Fresh ingredients. Top clockwise: chopped mint leaves, chopped cilantro, thinly sliced shallots, chopped scallions and limes. I tend to add more lime juice in mine than necessary. One lime should be enough for 1 lb. of meat but I used two.
Boiled chicken. Allow the cooked chicken to cool a little before chopping it up to small pieces. You can also use ground chicken (or other ground meats) and sautee in a pan with a bit of vegetable oil. I prefer it boiled because it’s healthier and less oily.
Use a pestle to mash it. I do it directly in the bowl where all the ingredients will go in.
Add the laab mix, the herbs, squeeze in the lime juices, and add a teaspoon or two of fish sauce (not shown). I also add a tablespoon of reserved chicken broth so that it’s not too dry.
Mix well and done.
This is a very spicy salad so have it with a large glass of water.
Mom gave me some bok choy and a kabocha squash and because my kids and husband are not fans, I have to be a little creative with what I make, otherwise most of it goes to waste.
With the bok choy, I made a stir fry with chicken and a little bit of osyter sauce. Husband and the kids liked it but they only ate the chicken.
I also boiled some bok choy. Husband and the kids didn’t eat any but that’s okay because I didn’t mind having it all to myself. It was sooo good. Especially because it reminds me of being Hmong. You’ll find that eating boiled greens of any kind (but usually leafy greens) is a norm in the Hmong culture. So, if you come across a friend or a neighbor who boils their greens and sets a big bowl of it on the dining table during meals, you’ll know they’re Hmong. 🙂
With the kabocha squash, I normally would just boil it and eat it the same way I do the boiled greens. This was the only way I knew how to eat it because this was always the way I grew up eating it.
The photo above was taken of some of Mom’s larger squashes. Mine was about the size of a small round watermelon. It was still a lot for one person.
I tried it boiled with some cinnamon and sugar. It was okay. I still prefer it plain or with a little sugar and mashed.
And, made a Thai red curry squash. The recipe is here. Instead of using bell peppers (which I don’t like), I used thinly sliced bamboo shoots. I also added one lemon grass sprig (tip and green rough parts chopped off), kaffir lime leaves, and instead of adding lime juice, I sliced a lime into quarters and set them aside with some thinly sliced scallions to be used as needed.
It was pretty good. I loved the aroma of Thai curry and the combination of the buttery flavored squash with the crunchiness from the bamboo shoots.
Mom always toasts some of her seeds. I think she lets them dry out in the sun and then toasts them in a pan. I wanted to toast them in the oven so I found this recipe and it turned out pretty delicious except that I burnt them a little.
Kida ate them with me. She liked that they were slightly burnt.