Stir-Fried Bitter Melon with Canned Fried Dace and Fermented Black Soybeans


Published: July 23, 2019

It’s Dashu today, also known as Major Heat, in the 24 solar terms of the traditional East Asian calendars. The sun is exactly at the celestial longitude of 120° today. To make it easier to understand, today is one of those hottest days of the year.

Bittermelon is a seasonal must-have for Cantonese, also one of the commonly-seen Asian vegetable and can be obtained easily worldwide. Chinese believe its bitterness can eliminate the heat in the body, though it’s proved that there are many other benefits, such as lowering blood sugar. I wrote another bittermelon recipe early of this summer.

Today’s recipe is one of the Cantonese homecooked classic, to stir-fry bittermelon with canned fried dace and salted feremented black beans. Canned dace is the most popular Cantonese canned food. In those days I studied in Scotland, every time when I was a little homesick I would open a can of fried dace or steamed one Cantonese sausage on rice. These two are the very Cantonese food that can be easily found in any Chinese grocery stores aboard.

Besides bittermelon, canned dace and salted black beans can also be stir-fried with many other vegetables, such as Choy-sum, Gai-lan/Chinese broccoli, green beans, etc. This is a quick stir-fry dish, only takes a few minutes to cook, otherwise the bittermelon wouldn’t be crunchy.

Ingredients –
Bittermelon, 2, about 450g;
Canned dace and fermented black soybeans, half can, about 100g;
Garlic, 3 cloves;
Salt and sugar.

How to do –
1. Split it in half, dig the seeds out, and try to remove the white part with a spoon, then slice;

2. Toss the slices with 1tbsp of salt, sit for 15 minutes in order to draw out some of its bitter juice. Then wash off the salt, drain. But for those don’t care the bitterness, skip this step;

3. Usually there are two daces in one can, for this dish, one would be good enough. Tear it into small pieces;

4. Heat 3tbsp of oil in hot pan in high heat, then pan-fry 3 cloves of garlic slices till fragrant;

5. Put in bittermelon, flip and stir-fry for 1 minute in high heat;

6. Move aside, put in fried dace and salted black beans, pan-fry till fragrant. Then flip well with the melon, seasoned with half tsp of salt and sugar. Cantonese usually don’t use sugar when cooking vegetables but salt, sugar, and oil can help to balance the bitterness of bittermelon;

7. Stir-fry for 1 more minute till bittermelon turns light golden on the edges, then serve right away, better with steamed rice.

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