Several years ago, one of my readers asked for a recipe for Canh O/Kho Qua Nhoi Thit (Vietnamese Stuffed Bitter Melon Soup). I made Canh Bi/Bau Nhoi Thit (Vietnamese Pork-Stuffed Winter Melon Soup) instead since I couldn't eat bitter melon.
I tried it again last April (Ha! As if it's a surprise that it takes me forever to post recipes.) and found out that I still can't eat bitter melon. Too bad for me since I vowed to eat more healthy in the new year and bitter melon has tons of purported health benefits.
As an aside, does anyone else call bitter melon o qua, not the more popular (in online search terms anyway) kho qua? Seems those who call it the latter often eat it for the lunar new year since they want the kho qua, which can be translated to mean "hardship over" in Vietnamese. But since my family calls it o qua, we don't dwell on hardships, nor serve it up for new year's, my mama says. Ha!
Canh O/Kho Qua Nhoi Thit (Vietnamese Stuffed Bitter Melon Soup)
For about 4 servings, you'll need:
2 bitter melons
1/2 lb ground pork
1/3 cup Tree/Wood Ear Fungus/Mushroom, soaked
1/2 small bundle of vermicelli noodles, soaked and cut into 2-inch sections
1 shallot, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp sugar
1 tblsp Nuoc Mam (Vietnamese Fish Sauce), or more to taste
Soak about 1/3 cup tree ear mushrooms in water to soften. Vermicelli noodles are often sold in small bundles, you just need half of one. Soak to soften and cut into short segments. These serve to bind the meat together.
Mix 1/2 lb ground pork with 1 minced shallot, 3 minced garlic cloves, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp ground black pepper, 1 tsp sugar, and 1 tblsp fish sauce. Set aside.
Bitter melon growing on my second-youngest uncle's vines back in September 2008.
Supermarket bitter melon a little worse for wear. Cut off the ends and slice the bitter melon into 2- or 3-inch segments.
Hollow out centers with a spoon or knife. I used a serrated grapefruit spoon for ease. Discard the centers.
If you want to lessen the bitterness of bitter melon, you can parboil them for a few minutes. Boil for no more than 5 minutes or else the bitter melon will be too soft to stuff. You'll notice when the color starts turning from bright green. Remove from heat, drain, and rinse in cold water.
By now the meat mixture should be nicely marinated. Stuff the centers of the bitter melons. If there's any extra meat, you can form small meatballs, which will help flavor the soup broth.
Place the stuffed melons into a stock pot with enough water to cover by several inches. Turn the heat on high and when the water boils, turn the heat down to medium or medium-low and let simmer. Skim any scum from the top.
After about 15 to 20 minutes, the bitter melon will be cooked when it softens and turns dark. Taste the broth and add fish sauce or sugar if necessary.
Serve as a soup or spooned over rice.
And a picture of canh o qua with meatballs from the extra meat.
The original photo wasn't as bad as some of my early pictures, but you have to admit that the updated canh o qua looks much more appealing!
Who else made bitter melon soup?
When Christine of Holy Basil made this soup was the first time I heard it called kho qua.
My other canh recipes:
Canh Bap Cai Bac Thao (Vietnamese Napa Cabbage Soup)
Canh Bap Cai Nhoi Thit (Vietnamese Stuffed Cabbage Soup)
Canh Bi Voi Tom (Winter Melon Soup with Shrimp)
Canh Bi/Bau Nhoi Thit (Vietnamese Pork-Stuffed Winter Melon Soup)
Canh Chua Ca (Vietnamese Sour Fish Soup)
Canh Chua Tom (Vietnamese Sour Shrimp Soup)
Canh Cu Sen (Vietnamese Lotus Root Soup)
Canh Du Du (Vietnamese Papaya Soup)
Canh Rau Cuu Ky (Vietnamese (Chinese) Boxthorn Soup)
Canh Tao/Rong Bien (Vietnamese Seaweed Soup)
1 year ago today, Pearl Chinese Cuisine (Wedding Banquet) - San Diego.
2 years ago today, frog fallopian tubes, tortoise shell jelly, and knife-cut noodles at Tasty - San Gabriel.
3 years ago today, for those of you with New Year's resolutions to "exercise more," photos of people exercising around Ho Hoan Kiem (Returned Sword Lake) in Hanoi, Vietnam.