Most of us do not like bitter gourd due to the simple reason that it has this bitter taste. When I was younger I totally refrained from it. When we were living in Malaysia, bitter gourds were so easily available in the wet markets that I decided to take a brave step and give it a chance. Well, I’ve never regretted it since. Now I am a big fan of bitter gourd dishes. I guess as we mature, our taste buds changes too!
The good news is; I was taught by my mother-in-law to choose bitter gourd which has grooves that are far part as this will mean it’s less bitter. I also found out that rubbing some salt on the bitter gourd can remove some of the bitterness. So don’t shun away from this wonderful dish which is a definite keep.
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Serves 3 to 4 persons
600g pork ribs (cut into bite sizes)
1 medium bitter gourd
1 tablespoon fermented black bean
1 teaspoon fish sauce/soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 to 3 bird eye chillis (chopped)
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 ½ tablespoons salt
- Slice the bitter gourd length-wise into half.
- Use a spoon to scoop out the spongy white centre and seeds then discard them.
- Rinse the bitter gourd and sprinkle with some salt to remove some of the bitterness. Leave for 20 minutes, then rinse off the salt.
- Cut into thick slices (about 3/4 inch), set aside.
- Rub a tablespoon of salt on the pork ribs and leave them for about 5 minutes.
- Then rinse the pork and set aside.
- Run the fermented black bean through water if it comes coated with salt.
- Then roughly smashed the beans and set aside.
- In a wok or pot, heat up the oil.
- Add the garlic, fermented black beans and chillies and fry till fragrant.
- Add in the pork ribs and fry until all the pieces are seared and coated in the sauce.
- Add a small cup of water and fish sauce/soy sauce and sugar and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat, cover the wok and let the pork simmer for 35 to 40 minutes or until meat is tender.
- Then add the bitter gourd and simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes (depending on how crunchy/soft you want your bitter gourd). At this juncture, if the water level is too low, add some water.
- Dish and serve with steamed white rice.
- You can thicken the sauce with cornflour.
- Cut down the number of chillies and/or deseed the chillies if you do not want the dish to be too spicy.