Vietnamese Stuffed Bitter Melon Soup (Canh Kho Qua)

I never knew researching bitter melon could be so interesting and informative. Besides being just a bitter vegetable, I learned that there are health benefits eating bitter melon which includes helping improve diabetic and toxemia conditions.  It is also known for being good for your skin and is packed with tons of nutrients and minerals.  However, don’t get too carried away and eat too much of this because it can cause diarrhea! 🙂

Some people don’t like bitter melon and find it difficult to eat because well..as the name implies…it’s bitter.  I actually love the distinct bitter taste and enjoy it prepared in many different ways.  However, the best way to prepare bitter melon is stuffing it with meat and making soup served with salted pork/fish over rice – Vietnamese style.

Many Bitter Melon soup recipes use only ground pork, but this mom-inspired home cooked Vietnamese soup recipe, uses a mix of ground pork, fish paste (in San Jose, I buy it at Long Phung.  I think they have the best fish paste ever), and shrimp paste.
If you never tasted bitter melon you should definitely try it.  If you end up not liking it, at least you know it is very nutritious, good for you, and is make your skin look great.

Ingredients:
8 cups of water
3 bitter melon
1/2 pound lean ground pork
1/2 pound fish paste
1/2 pound shrimp
1 ounce bean thread noodle
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons pepper
2 green onions 
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
Steps:
  1. Soak bean thread noodles in hot water for 5-10 minutes.  Cut into 2 inch pieces.
  2. In a food processor, process shrimp to a paste.  
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine ground pork, fish paste,  shrimp paste, bean thread noodles, 1 tablespoon of fish sauce, and 1 teaspoon of pepper.  Cover and set aside for about half an hour.
  4. Wash bitter melon.  Cut bitter melon to 1 1/2 – 2 inch rings.  Using a spoon or a knife, carefully remove the seeds and white spongy interior. 
  5. Bring water to a boil in a stockpot.  
  6. Fill each bitter melon ring with stuffing.  When water is boiling, add the stuffed bitter melon rings into the pool of boiling water.  Form little balls with any left over stuffing and add to water.  Reduce heat and allow stuffed bitter melon to simmer for 20-30 minutes or until tender. 
  7. Taste the soup and season with additional  fish sauce, salt, and sugar to taste.  Add green onions
  8. Put soup in a bowl, top with fried garlic and pepper and serve over rice.

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