Two medium length 8-12 inch bitter melons
6 cups of water or chicken broth
1 green onion, thinly chopped
sprigs of cilantro, thinly chopped
1 peeled shallot
1/2 lb ground pork
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 minced shallots or small onion, diced
1/2 cup bean thread noodles, soaked in warm water about 10 min, drain and cut in 2-3 inch length
1/4 cup wood ear mushrooms, soaked in warm water about 10 min, drain and cut thinly
In a large mixing bowl, mix together the pork, fish sauce, sugar, pepper, salt, shallots, wood ear mushrooms, bean thread noodles and mix well. Cover and set aside.
Blanching is an optional technique to reduce a bit of the bitterness. Quickly blanch the entire bitter melon in boiling water for about 1 minute–the color will turn a dark green. Remove and allow to cool. When cool to the touch, slice melons cross wise into 1 to 1.5 inch pieces. Using a table spoon or knife, drive it between the green outer flesh and the center white pith. Hold the bitter melon in one hand and spoon/knife in other, and slowly core out the pith and seeds with a circular motion.
Add the peeled shallot to the water/stock and bring to boil. In the meantime, stuff the bitter melons with the pork stuffing. Dip the ends with cornstarch/water to reduce the probability of the meat falling out during cooking.
When water/stock is boiling add the stuffed bitter melons and cover reducing heat to low, cook for about 15 minutes or until the center of the pork is done. Season with some salt to taste.
Cooks note: Add a peppercorn on top of the pork stuffing for additional spiciness which will cut down on the bitterness. Skip the blanching if you love the unadulterated full bitterness. Also for additional bitterness you can save the liquid from the blanch for the soup. Discard if you’re using chicken stock.