Karela Bitter Melon

“Karela” is a popular ingredient from my home islands of Okinawa, Japan. However, living in the UK I discovered over the years that I had to source this ingredients from Indian specialist food stores. If you have never come across this ingredient before, it is definitely an acquired taste and is colloquially known as bitter melon for a reason. It is unique but it is quintessentially Okinawan, so it offers a taste of home for me.


Recently, I popped into such store, where I was both delighted and shocked to find one as long as 20cm. In the UK, this is abnormally large find. I couldn’t control myself and bought a whopping 700g! That’s enough to feed 6 people in one sitting. Unfortunately, I live alone and the full responsibility for eating all that Karela fell to me ,,,,,,,, happy belly days!
So, for my first blog post, I thought it would be fitting to introduce you to this wonderful ingredient. Here are two recipes:

1) Stir-fried Karela with eggs
(2) Karela Tempura (snack style)

Stir-fried Karela with eggs

Ingredients
350g         Karela
1 Ts          Salt
2 Tbs         Vegetable oil
1/2 Ts        Dashi
2                Eggs

(1)Cut Karela in lengthways, remove its seeds and slice thinly along the width. Place the slice in a bowl, sprinkle with salt and give them a bit of squeeze, leave it aside about 20 minutes until wilted. This process removes some of the bitterness.

(2)Wash away the salt, rinsing the Karela with water 2-3 times. In the final rinse, squeeze and remove all the excess water.

(3)Heat frying pan until very hot, add the vegetable Oil and Karela, fry until they are cooked, this only takes a few munities and should be to similar co cooked pasta texture.  Once cooked, add dashi in and mix. Next add eggs and scramble. Add salt if needed.

Karela Tempura
Ingredients
150g         Karela
1/2 TS       Salt
1                Egg
50g            Water
Pinch         salt
70g            Plain flour
1/4 Ts        Baking powder

(1)Cut Karela in lengthways, remove its seeds and slice thinly along the width. Place the slice in a bowl, sprinkle with salt and give them a bit of squeeze, leave it aside about 20 minutes until wilted. This process removes some of the bitterness.

(2)Wash away the salt, rinsing the Karela with water 2-3 times. In the final rinse, squeeze and remove all the excess water.

(3)Place the remaining ingredients in a bowl, mix to a smooth batter, add the Karela and mix well. Deep fry a spoonful at a time at 180C for 2 minutes on each side.

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