One of these madeleines is a stuffed bitter melon soup which my grandmother used to make for me. I took to it as a very young child, perhaps proving yet again that I am a Teochew girl through and through. The other evidence of it is the unrelented desire I had as a child to eat congee and salted turnip omelette.
The taste for congee and salted turnip omelette is somewhat understandable: soft stodgy comforting food with a highlight of saltiness. The taste for bitter melon less so, with most children unable to eat bitter foods altogether.
My uncle says that you have to have tasted bitterness to enjoy bitter melon. I clearly hadn't at that age; on the contrary, stuffed bitter melon soup evoked comfort and lightness for me.
Bone broth is a comforting staple at home, but there is something about this knobbly, pale green vegetable which suggests a feeling resembling compassion for a sad friend.
The weather has been extremely hot in the South-East of England lately, and although I used to enjoy 30 degree weather as a young adult, 17 years of adaptation to the weather here has left me with very low tolerance to any temperature higher than 23 degrees.
I have been hot and bothered for weeks now, and also suffering from allergy to a very high grass pollen count, feeling sticky and snotty and generally yukky.
There is something about the bitter taste that is clean, refreshing, light. I even find that it highlights sweetness in foods that it is combined with.
I like to contrast the bitter taste with something savoury and a little fatty, and I find that pork works great with it.
But enough of my rambling, I shall leave you with my recipe for stuffed bitter melon soup.
If you try it, please leave me comments on your thoughts or add a picture of it in the comments!
Ingredients for 1 person:
For the bone broth:
Organic pork bones
For the stuffed bitter melon:
1 small bitter melon
100g good quality (preferably organic) pork mince
A couple of dried shiitake mushrooms
A couple of tbsp soya sauce
A pinch of salt
1 tsp sesame oil
1. Make some pork bone broth (I order pork bones from an online organic farm).
2. Soak a couple of dried shiitake mushrooms for 20 minutes.
3. Marinate the pork mince in soya sauce, salt, and sesame oil.
4. In the meantime, clean the bitter melon, trim the ends and cut in roughly 3cm chunks.
5. Cut the inside white pith off and discard it, leaving rings of the lovely knobbly green flesh.
6. Once the shiitake mushrooms are rehydrated, chop them finely. Add them to the pork mince and mix.
7. Stuff the bitter melon rings with the pork mince mixture.
8. Add the stuffed bitter melon chunks to the boiling pork broth and cook on medium heat for about half an hour.
9. Et voilà! Ladle the stuffed bitter melon chunks with some soup into your favourite bowl, and tuck in. You can use some dipping chilli sauce, and you can also eat the meat on the pork bones, which is incredibly tender!