Monday, December 1, 2008

Canh Khổ Qua (Bitter Melon Soup)

Funny thing about khổ qua (bitter melon), I always referred to it as ổ qua. Only in Vietnam was I told by my Vietnamese tutor that I was mispronouncing it. When I told my mom, she said she knew and it was just a short form she uses. It’s just one of those things she failed to mention!!

Bitter melon is definitely not for everyone. It’s not called bitter for nothing! I grew up eating it in soups like this one so I am accustomed to it. My mom says it is a good vegetable to cool down (not literally but inside your body - you would understand if you're Vietnamese!). I remember when I was young having South Asian neighbours who grew bitter melon. Supposedly, it affected our cucumbers and made them slightly bitter. Not sure if that's true...

Canh is a Vietnamese term that refers to soup. Vietnamese canh is usually broth based with a vegetable with a bit of protein, be it shrimp or meat. My mom makes canh khổ qua with shrimp or she will cut rounds and stuff them with a meat filling.

Canh Khổ Qua (Bitter Melon Soup)

To prepare the melon
Slice lengthwise in half.
Scoop the interior and throw it out.
Slice thinly.

For the canh (soup)
* 1 tsp oil
* ½ onion, small diced
* 5-6 large shrimps, small diced
* ½ tbsp salt
* pinch of pepper
* ½ tbsp crab paste
* 1 L (4 cups) water
* 2 khổ qua, sliced

Saute onion and shrimp in oil.
Add salt, pepper and crab paste, and mix.
Add water and bring to a boil.
Add the slice of khổ qua.
Turn down the heat to medium.
Cook until the khổ qua has softened.
Taste and adjust seasoning.

Slicing khổ qua (bitter melon).

Shrimp chopped roughly.

My mom adds crab paste for added flavour.

Cooking the shrimp with onion and crab paste.

Doesn't this look appetizing? You have to be ready for a spoonful of bitter!

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