Ever since my Canh O/Kho Qua Nhoi Thit (Vietnamese Stuffed Bitter Melon Soup) recipe, when I found out that some Vietnamese eat bitter melon at the start of the year to signify that the “kho qua” (hardship over in Vietnamese), I’ve thought it was a quirky little tradition. And while my family calls bitter melon “o qua” so we don’t dwell on bitterness, I figured this recipe would come in handy at the start of this year.
Last summer when I was experimenting with ways to make bitter melon less bitter, I searched for additional recipes and stumbled upon Goya Champuru (Okinawan Bitter Melon Stir-Fry with Pork Belly, Tofu, and Eggs). Normally, this dish is made with pork belly, but I wanted a healthy side dish. I was making Chinese Deep-Fried Chicken Wings with Spicy Salt, since my dad liked them so much the first time, and I figured I’d make them again before he left to go back to Oregon.
I sliced and parboiled the bitter melon to reduce the bitterness. Then it was a simple stir-fry of eggs and tofu, before tossing in the bitter melon last since it was already half-cooked. Just soy sauce was my only seasoning.
Vegetarian Goya Champuru (Okinawan Bitter Melon Stir-Fry with Tofu and Eggs)
For about 4 servings as a side dish, you’ll need:
1 bitter melon, halved lengthwise, scrapped clean, and thinly sliced
14-oz medium tofu, pressed to remove excess moisture and sliced into 1-inch by 2-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 scallions, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 eggs beaten
2 tsp soy sauce
Fill a 2-quart pot halfway with water and set it to boil. Press 14-oz block of tofu between two paper towels to absorb excess moisture.
Meanwhile, halve a bitter melon lengthwise. Scrape and discard the insides. I used a serrated grapefruit spoon for ease.
Thinly slice the bitter melon.
When the pot of water has boiled, add the bitter melon slices and parboil for about 3 minutes.
Drain into a colander and rinse with cold water. The bitter melon should still be bright green. You want to parboil just enough to take off the edge of bitterness, but leave the vegetable tender-crisp.
Slice the tofu into 1-inch by 2-inch pieces of about 1/2-inch thick. Set aside.
Slice scallions into 2-inch pieces and halve or quarter them lengthwise if you wish. Set aside.
Crush 2 cloves garlic. Set aside.
Beat 2 eggs into a bowl. In a pan on medium-high heat, drizzle a bit of oil and make a quick scrambled egg omelet. Remove the eggs from the pan and set aside.
Drizzle a bit more oil and add the crushed garlic.
When the garlic begins to soften, add the sliced tofu.
Flip and let the tofu get a little golden.
Then add the bitter melon, scallions, and 2 tsps soy sauce.
Stir to mix.
Then add the eggs back in, breaking them into bite-sized pieces.
That’s it. Done.
Serve with rice if you wish.
Other bitter melon recipes:
Canh O/Kho Qua Nhoi Thit (Vietnamese Stuffed Bitter Melon Soup)
Chinese Bitter Melon Stir-Fry with Ground Pork and Black Bean Sauce
Dib Iab Ntim Nqaij Hau Ua Kua (Hmong Stuffed Bitter Melon Soup with Ground Pork, Cilantro, and Scallions)
O/Kho Qua Xao Trung (Vietnamese Stir-Fried Bitter Melon with Eggs)
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