Thai stuffed bitter melon soup is a comforting and healthy dish. It includes bitter melon, bean thread noodles, baby pork ribs, and Thai herbs and sauces. Packed with nutrients and flavored with Thai seasoning paste, this soup has a unique and slightly bitter taste from the star ingredient, bitter melon. Enjoy a nourishing meal with this soup!
- What is Bitter Melon?
- Health Benefits of Bitter Melons
- Other names for bitter melon soup
- Ingredients for bitter melon soup recipe
- How to Make Bitter Melon Soup
- Garnishing Options
- Helpful Kitchen Notes and Tips
- What to Serve With Bitter Melon Soup
- Variations and Substitutes
- Storing Leftovers
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Related Thai Recipes You'll Love
- Thai Stuffed Bitter Melon Soup (with Ground Pork)
- Related Thai Recipes You'll Love
- It's a healthy soup full of nourishing nutrients for your body.
- Comforting dish. It's a great soup to enjoy during the colder months or can be eaten during the summer. There is no time frame limit on this delicious soup.
- It's easy to make and can be made and put on your dinner table in less than 45 minutes.
- Bitter melon soup is a unique and acquired taste commonly found in Asian cuisine.
- It is a popular dish for special occasions like the Lunar New Year.
What is Bitter Melon?
Bitter melon, bitter gourd, or Momordica Charantia is a vegetable with a distinct bitter taste. It's often used in Asian dishes and is believed to have medicinal properties. The bitter taste takes some getting used to, but once you have it often enough, you might even crave it.
One of my favorite ways to eat bitter melon is to make Goya Chompuru, a Japanese stir-fry dish using firm tofu, eggs, ham, spam, or bacon.
Health Benefits of Bitter Melons
Bitter melon, despite its challenging bitter taste, has numerous health benefits. The people of Okinawa, renowned as the world's longest-living population, regularly consume Goya or bitter melon as part of their diet. This highly nutritious fruit is believed to be one of their longevity secrets.
During our 4-year stay in Okinawa, a Southern Japanese island, we developed a strong liking for bitter melons. Our favorite way to enjoy them was in the famous Goya Chompura stir-fry dish.
Below are some healthful benefits of bitter melon.
- It prevents and fights cancerous cells.
- Bitter melon is rich in vitamin C and can help lower blood sugar levels.
- It helps with lower blood pressure.
- Bitter melons are high in antioxidants and are great for fixing free radicals in your body.
Other names for bitter melon soup
These are the different names of the bitter melon soup from all different cultures and cuisines. Thai bitter melon soup, Mướp đắng (Vietnamese), Canh Kho Qua or Canh Khổ Qua (Vietnamese bitter melon soup), Indian bitter melon soup, Cambodian pork stuffed bitter melon soup, Asian bitter melon soup, Vietnamese bitter melon soup and Kaeng Jeud Mara, แกงจืดมะระ, (Thai).
Ingredients for bitter melon soup recipe
These are the main ingredients for making Thai bitter melon soup.
- Bitter melon pieces. Find bitter melons in your Asian market. They are in season now and at their prime.
- Glass noodles. They are also called bean thread vermicelli noodles, cellophane noodles, or clear noodles. Learn more about the different types of Thai noodles here.
- Garlic. Garlic and cilantro pounded together to create a flavorful paste for the soup base.
- Cilantro. Stems or roots for the soup base and the leafy parts for garnishing. Learn more about the different herbs used in Thai cooking here.
- White pepper. Black pepper is fine as a substitute. Read here about the spices used in Thai cuisine.
- Green onion or chives. It adds to the flavoring of the soup.
- Ground pork. Ground chicken or turkey works, but the sweeter pork meat helps offset the melon's bitter flavors.
- Shredded carrots. Shredded carrots add texture and nutrients to the soup.
- Fish sauce. Fish sauce adds authentic Thai flavors and an umami taste to the soup.
- Light soy sauce. Regular soy sauce is fine as a substitute. But adjust as needed for the final flavors. Learn more about the essential sauces in Thai cooking here.
- Pork bouillon. I used a Thai brand for this soup. You can find the same one at your local Asian market. This pork bouillon is the same.
- Water. Vegetable or chicken stock can be used instead for added flavors. Make sure it's unsalted stock.
- Salt. Just need a dash to season the soup base.
Other vegetables to add to the stuffed melon if desired:
- Mushrooms- wood ear mushrooms, portobello, or shiitake mushrooms are excellent additions to the soup. Chop them into small pieces to add to the pork mixture. Add ¼ cup to the meat mixture.
- Onion. White or sweet onions are best. Shallot works, too. Add ¼ cup to the meat mixture.
How to Make Bitter Melon Soup
Prepare bitter melon by cutting it into 4 small pieces and removing the white pith (the white part) and seeds. In a large bowl, soak the melon in water with a little salt (1 tablespoon) to help remove some of the bitterness of the melon.
Soak the glass noodles in warm water for 8-10 minutes or until soft. Drain and cut into 4-5 inch pieces.
Make the soup base seasoning by combining garlic, cilantro stems, and white pepper with a mortar and pestle. Pound into a rough paste. If you don't have a mortar and pestle, mix the ingredients into fine pieces. The paste will be divided into halves—one part for the pork mixture and the other half for the soup base.
Make the pork mixture. In a mixing bowl, Combine ground pork, glass noodles, half of the green paste, salt, carrot, and green onion. Mix well and get ready to stuff the melon.
Stuffing the melons. Drain the bitter melon, pat dry, and stuff it with the meat filling. Allow some room for the meat to expand once cooked.
Build the soup base. Add pork boullion, half the green paste, and salt and water in a large pot. Turn the stove to high heat. Bring it to a boil and season the soup with fish sauce and soy sauce.
Cooking the stuffed melon. Carefully Place the stuffed bitter melon in the pot of boiling water.
Turn the heat down and Simmer until the melon is tender and the soup is flavorful. About 15-20 minutes. Season as needed. That is it! Serve hot with jasmine rice or as a stand-alone tasty soup!
- Top the soup with green onions and cilantro, or sprinkle some white pepper for added heat.
Helpful Kitchen Notes and Tips
- The bitterness of the melon can be reduced by soaking the melon in salted water before cooking.
- Also, blanching the melon in boiling water for a minute and then submerging it in cold water helps reduce the bitterness and preserve the color.
- Be careful when placing the stuffed melons into the boiling water. Use a wire mesh skimmer or tongs to prevent a splatter of hot water.
What to Serve With Bitter Melon Soup
- Bitter melon soup is often served with rice as a main dish in Asian cuisine.
Variations and Substitutes
- Some variations include using tofu or different types of meat for stuffing.
- Fish or shrimp is an excellent substitute if you prefer a lighter protein. Ground it up into small pieces the size of minced pork.
- You can adjust the level of spiciness by adding chili pepper.
- Leftover bitter melon soup can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can search for bitter melon at specialty stores, international grocery stores, or online.
Yes. Various recipes use bitter melon, such as stir-fries, curries, and stuffed bitter melon.
To prepare bitter melon using a food processor, slice or chop it. Avoid slicing the pieces too thin as it may hinder stuffing them with ground meat.
To make the soup less bitter, blanch or soak the bitter melon in salted water before cooking or balance the bitterness with other ingredients like sugar or citrus.
Popular side dishes for bitter melon soup include steamed rice, stir-fried vegetables, and tofu.
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