Even though I can stop into Asian or Latino markets on any corner in Los Angeles and find fresh bitter melon or soursop, I know that most people across the country aren’t so lucky. For them, I recommend visiting melissas.com, an exotic produce company which will ship fresh and sometimes dried produce anywhere in the U.S. Melissa’s is also the largest distributor of specialty produce in the country.
Bitter melon, which resembles a wrinkly, light-green cucumber, is something of an acquired taste. Soaking it in salted water to remove the bitterness is the first step in getting people to fall in love with it. It’s worth the trouble, because boiling bitter melon in water releases its antioxidant power. Bitter melon also has beta-carotene, potassium, and fiber. Asian herbalists prescribe it to diabetes patients to help them stabilize their blood sugar.
I have a mean Bitter Melon Salad recipe in my The Age GRACEfully Cookbook that I’d like to share with you today. This salad makes an excellent side dish for grilled meat, fish, and vegetables.
1. Slice the bitter melons lengthwise and remove all white parts, including the seeds. Sprinkle with the salt and let stand for 10-15 minutes. Rinse.
2. Cut the melons crosswise into strips. Blanch the slices in boiling water with the baking soda for 5 minutes. Drain and let cool.
3. To make the dressing, mix together the rice vinegar, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Let stand for up to 1 hour to allow the flavors to blend.
4. Toss the melon slices with the dressing.
5. To assemble, arrange the melon slices on salad plates. Top with the chopped eggs and tomatoes, evenly divided.