Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Bitter Melon and Pork. A Hakka Chinese Jamaican Inspired Version

Eaten with rice and Vietnamese Dua Choa (pickle)
This recipe belongs to no country but I took my inspiration from a Hakka Chinese dish the Mother of my best fried used to make. This is similar but yet totally different. The flavors are very strong, the preparation a bit lengthy and labor intensive. It will not be a dish for everyone. The original dish is much simpler in that it uses just soy sauce, oyster sauce and Chinese black beans. This is a more “turbocharged” version and reflects the flavors of the Caribbean blended with Hakka Chinese Jamaican cooking, and prepared to my own taste.

XO sauce is pretty expensive and usually only available in Chinese supermarkets. A cheaper, more available substitute would be 1-2 tsp Vietnamese Fish Sauce which is carried by many mainstream supermarkets. If you opt to use that, just sprinkle it on top of the mixture prior to steaming.

Bitter Melon is said to have beneficial effects on Diabetes. It is used in India, China, and Vietnam in a variety of recipes. 

Some ingredients you need

1 lb Bitter melon
½ lb ground pork
3 dried Chinese Mushrooms
4 Wood ears fungus
1 tsp Soy sauce
½ tsp each Salt and pepper
1 tbsp cooking wine
1 tbsp cornstarch
½ tsp Sesame oil
2 tbsp cooking oil
2 tsp Chinese Guizhou Chili black bean sauce
3 cloves Garlic, minced
3 shallots, minced
1/2 yellow Habanero pepper
1 tbsp Oyster sauce
1 tsp dark Soy sauce
2 tsp chili bean paste
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp Chinese cooking wine
½ tsp Sesame oil
1 tsp XO sauce
3-4 thin slices of ginger root
Cornstarch slurry of 2 tsp cornstarch and 4 tsp water


1.      Season the pork in a bowl with salt, pepper, soy sauce, 1 tbsp cooking wine, and 1 tbsp cornstarch and ½ tsp sesame oil. Mix well and let marinate in fridge
2.      Soak dried Chinese mushrooms and fungus by pouring boiling water over them, and soak until soft. Drain and chop both finely
3.      Wash and core bitter melons, and slice to fit steamer. Blanch in boiling water and drain.
4.      Arrange slices in steamer and stuff with pork mixture, leaving a little mound on top like a muffin top
5.      Heat cooking oil in a wok then fry shallots, garlic, chopped mushrooms and fungus till fragrant. Add the black bean sauce, Oyster sauce, soy sauce, chili bean paste, sugar, cooking wine and the remaining ½ tsp sesame oil. Thicken this sauce with the cornstarch slurry and pour over the stuffed bitter melons in the steamer.Spread the XO sauce over the top and put the ½ Habanero in the middle of the steamer. This will flavor the dish while steaming but not make it too spicy. Place the slices of ginger root over the top as well and steam for 40 minutes.

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