Monday, September 09, 2013

White Bittermelon Salad 凉拌苦瓜

Second to this raw salad Cucumber with Sesame Oil and Soy Dressing, this is another Chinese-style cold appetizer that does not need any cooking - not even blanching. Raw.

To be more specific, raw bittermelon.

I tried white bittermelon for the first time when I was in Taiwan many years ago. It is not common to see white bittermelon here in California, not even in the Asian supermarket. When I spotted that rare few among their green counterparts in Sunnyvale farmers market, I bought it without much consideration. Now, I can try this salad dish that I learn from this cooking video. The instructional video (in Mandarin) can be found at the end of this post.


As bittermelon is "cooling" in nature, it helps to relieve "heat" within the body, thus particularly useful as a counter-balance to the "yin" and "yang" in the body during summertime. There are many varieties of bittermelon. The Indian variety typically has sharper, "closely knitted" ridges compared to the Chinese variety. Then among the Chinese varieties, there is this white bittermelon, originally cultivated from Taiwan, which is much less bitter compared to the green bittermelon. During cultivation, these white fruits are often protected with paper sleeves. to close the top end and keep the bottom end open, blocking the exposure to the sun (yielding whiter fruits).


If you cannot accept the bitterness of bittermelon, I suggest blanching them especially if you use the green variety that is often more bitter than the white.


One key step is to have the bittermelon sliced really thin, razor thin; so what is better than using the equivalent of the kitchen razor blade - the vegetable/fruit peeler.


White Bittermelon Salad 凉拌苦瓜
Ingredients: 1tbsp light soy sauce to 5 tbsp water ratio, 1 small bittermelon sliced razor thin.
Directions: After slicing the bittermelon, soak them in an ice-bath to maintain the crisp and crunch of this melon. Remove from ice-bath after about 10 minutes. Make the dressing and when ready, drizzle dressing over the bittermelon


Sharing this with Souper Sunday and Hearth and Soul.

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