This isn't a slow simmered soup that takes 2 hours on the stove.
This is a quick 20 minutes soup that you can make on days when you want something nourishing and you just got home from work and you're too damn tired to call for take-out.
This is my go-to soup that's nutritious and flavourful.
Packed with only 3 good ingredients - tofu, bittergourd and minced pork.
You can even just cook some rice (in the rice cooker) while you make this soup. Once the rice is done, so's your tofu soup.
Here's how you do it.
1 packet of soft tofu, cut into cubes
1/2 cup minced pork/chicken - marinate with some salt, pepper, cornstarch and sesame oil
1/2 bittergourd, sliced thinly*
some chopped garlic
spring onions to garnish
salt & pepper to taste
800 ml water
Heat up some 2 tablespoons oil in a pot. Add garlic. Stir until it browns. Add water. Cover and bring it to a boil.
Once it is boiling, drop teaspoonfuls of minced pork/chicken into the soup.
Let this come to a boil again.
Add in tofu and bittergourd. Season with salt and pepper. Bring heat to mere simmer. Simmer this for another 3 - 5 minutes (don't overcook the bittergourd).
Turn off heat. Do not cover pot or else your bittergourd will look an unappetising brown instead of green.
Then let the soup "rest" for about 5 minutes. I find that "resting" soups lets the flavour deepen more and gives a more robust taste compared to serving the soup immediately. This is a key tip!
Before serving, sprinkle with spring onions. Your soup should be warm and lovely to slurp!
*Before you slice the bittergourd, wash the insides of the gourd (after you've scooped out the seeds) with a teaspoon of salt. Rub it well and rinse under running water. This gets most of the bitterness out of the gourd.
Bittergourd is very good for removing heatiness in the body.
It is also associated with older folks as younger ones often dislike bitter vegetables.
It's also quite Chinese to encourage young people to eat bitter melon or bitter gourd presumably as "eating bitterness" seems to be in the Chinese psyche. If you can't take the bitterness of life, you're doomed.
I enjoy eating another dish with bitter gourd. It's stir-fried with fermented black beans and garlic. All you need to do is slice the gourd thinly and fry it in a pan with fermented black beans and some chopped garlic.
Indians slice and deep-fry bitter gourd until they're crunchy. Often served with banana leaf rice, it's also a tasty way to eat bitter gourd minus the intense bitterness!
Of late, there's a lot of health benefits about juicing bitter melon and drinking it neat. I shall stick to my bittergourd soup, thank you!
What's your favourite way to cook and eat bittergourd (assuming you do eat this vegetable)?