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 immune-boosting beta-carotene, potassium, and detoxifying fiber. Asian herbalists prescribe it to diabetes patients to help them stabilize their blood sugar. This salad makes an excellent side dish for grilled meat, fish, and vegetables.
4 medium-size bitter melons
¼ cup kosher salt
Pinch of baking soda
1 cup seasoned rice vinegar
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. sea salt
¼ tsp. white pepper
2 chopped hard-boiled eggs
2 chopped medium tomatoes
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.