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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Stuffed Bitter Gourd Soup

In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.
I said, "Is it good, friend?"
"It is bitter – bitter", he answered,
"But I like it
Because it is bitter,
And because it is my heart." ~Stephen Crane



growing up with my grandparents was a pretty happy time for me. i say that because it wasn't until after i no longer lived with them did i realize that it was a happy time. my bà nội and ông nội were doting, they really took care of me. however, i did not call them by their proper paternal title and to this day, i still don't. i actually refuse to. the closest cousins to me were on the paternal side so they referred to my grandparents as bà ngoại and ông ngoại, so i did too. ass backwards and confusing as hell to outsiders but it worked for me, it was familiar and all i knew. kinda like a warm, well used baby blanket, one that you've had for years and years and even if you no longer slept with it, actually letting it go was not an option.

and the subsequent years after moving out were spent holding onto them. no matter what country we lived in, every summer i demanded to go back home to them. nevermind we could've gone on safaris in africa, trekked in europe or visited some beaches in southeast asia, for all i cared, everyone else in the immediate pham-ily could go, *i* was going home to my bà ngoại and ông ngoại. and every end of summer, when i had to leave, i bawled my eyes out.

now that i live on my own, on the other side of the country from them, (at least we're still on the same continent), i find amusement calling them randomly for bà ngoại's cooking expertise and ông ngoại's jokes. my grandmother thinks i am incapable of preparing a meal while my grandfather quizzes me on numbers for him to choose for the lottery. my most recent grandmother concoction is actually a very common vietnamese soup. it was also very common for me to grimmace if it showed up at the dinner table. it's an acquired taste. the bitter gourd is supposedly really good for you, cooling for your system but havoc for the tongue. without fail, i had to finish a bowl of the stuff. i used to sit at the table, after everyone had already finished, and take minute sips of the bitter broth; usually having gone stone cold already. ick. lately, i've been feeling nostalgic for the soup; maybe in anticipation for the phamily reunion in LA this summer or just maybe, because the familiarity of the dish brings me back to my happy place.

bittergourd soup



Stuffed Bitter Gourd Soup
i completely winged it

1lb ground pork
1 medium onion, diced
1 tsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1-2 tsp oyster sauce
1/2 tsp pepper
a few bitter gourds, cut in half and pitted
veggie stock

for the stuffed part, i basically did the shumai recipe, except i was a bit generous with the oyster sauce, in the hopes of masking the bitterness. again, like my other bitter gourd scrambled eggs, i blanched the halves in salted water for a few minutes, but keeping a careful eye that they didn't get too soft. after a few minutes, i took them out and immediately put them in ice cold water to halt the cooking process.

when cool, stuff the gourds with the meat mixture. any leftover meat, roll into meatballs and you have Grandma's Shumai sans wrapper. meanwhile, heat up the veggie broth to a gentle simmer and add the gourds in. cook till done.

i had this simple meal with a bowl of rice. and just so you know, despite the blanching, the broth was still slightly bitter, as was the gourd. but that's ok. it was bitter and i liked it.

053



today's song: David Archuleta, Touch My Hand

{just a note, he is so refreshingly precious...}


11 comments:

  1. I just made this last week b/c of your bitter melon egg post! Decided I would try again. And still can't eat it. Too bitter.

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  2. How funny! Because of the bitter melon egg post, I immediately went out and got the ingredients to make this soup. So I have recently satisfied my nostalgia for a little while.

    My pork mixture was different because it contained wood ear fungus and bean thread noodles, just like how my mother used to make it. I never even thought of using oyster sauce, but for me, what helps with the bitterness is adding fish sauce to my bowl of rice and broth. Yum. Oh my. I think I'm drooling again. And I also see a visit to the Asian market in the near future. Again.

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  3. That Crane poem is one of my all-time favourites, pinned to my corkboard.

    And this recipe reminds me of Greek Yemista (stuffed vegetables)and my grandparents.

    Lovely.

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  4. Yum! I love this dish but I'm not a big fan of the bitter melon. I usually just eat the inside meat. hehe

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  5. wc - as my grandmother would say (and she actually said it recently) it's so good for you, just suck it up! :)

    phan-tabulous - i actually had a small dish of fish sauce of cut up a chili pepper. then i dipped the bittergourd in it. it's how my grandfather likes to have his meal. fish sauce just makes things better all around. so glad you were able to make this dish too and your meat concoction sounds great. the next time i make it, i'm sure i'll try your version or use whatever i have handy in my pantry. :)

    meeso - it was really good, not only in taste but the fact that i conjured up some fond memories.

    maria - i simply adore this poem! thank you. :)

    kim kima - if i ever make this for you, you can have the meat and i'll eat the melon. :)

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  6. This is one of my all-time faves. It's an acquired taste for sure, and growing up I didn't like it. Now I'm hooked.

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  7. leela, i actually crave it now!!!! and to think i used to gag at seeing it in the market and begging my mom or grandmother not to get it!

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  8. WOW I am definitely making this dish! the only bittermelon dish i've made was soup with pork ribs, oyster and dates. I think my boyfriend will thank you for this recipe! ans a thank you from me ,can't wait to see more of your goodies!

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  9. WOW I am definitely making this dish! the only bittermelon dish i've made was soup with pork ribs, oyster and dates. I think my boyfriend will thank you for this recipe! ans a thank you from me ,can't wait to see more of your goodies!

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  10. leela, i actually crave it now!!!! and to think i used to gag at seeing it in the market and begging my mom or grandmother not to get it!

    ReplyDelete