Embrace bittermelon, and life is sweeter…

[HAPPY VEGGIE] Refreshing yourself with soup is possible

In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) you have to balance your food in summer with intake of fresh or cold-nature food . You may think spontaneously of cucumber or watermelon. But there are many others, potentially less well-known. Amongst them bittermelon is this pale green gourd with serious healthy properties. It purifies -detoxifies blood, helps getting rid of spots and is used to prevent and even cure diabete.

In Vietnam it is traditionnaly stuffed and cooked  in a soup (just like zucchini – find here  veggie recipe of stuffed zucchini).

I love exploring gardens and markets, wander there as often as I can. After Switzerland I crossed Paris today to shop at Joel Thiébault (Alma Marceau wednesday and saturday), where I am sure to find all year round the best of fresh herbs and vegetables.  I was rewarded because I found some bitter melon there. I decided to cook a recipe with additional freshening food. For Pitta dosha (fire in Ayurveda), or after indulging in too much coffee or wine, this menu will be perfect to rebalance. Less hot tempered, less spots..Doesn’t it sound perfect?

Beyond its nutritional properties, it is commonly said that its bitterness should be appreciated as everything comes sweeter after.. Just like in life.. This being said – a bit masochist?- an almost traditional Asian dinner comes tonight:

– Sticky rice

– Soup with bittermelon, straw mushroom, celery in a broth of veal, shallot, coriander seeds and fish sauce. If you don’t have straw mushrooms, replace with shitakes, morels or ceps, ie the most flavoured mushrooms you can find. So your broth will be powerful enough to counterbalance bitterness of the gourd. Small reminder : pour the fish sauce once soup is done, or at your own risk.. I know of unconditional Asian food lovers who were on the verge of going back to spaghetti carbonara for life.. Serve the soup with some lime . Celery and coriander seeds are refreshing.For bittermelon the paler (riper) they are, the less bitter. Scoop out the inside.

For a change I did not prepare traditional Vietnamese  goi, but instead 2 salads  with Japanese and Thai inspirations. They could be served as a meal by themselves.

– The Japanese inspired shabu shabu salad comes with lettuce, bitter and peppery wild aragula , fresh and crunchy thin sticks of cucumber and the poached veal, sliced in thin parts. For the sauce, combine sesame paste, mirin, soya sauce and rice vinegar. I added some shredded lime leaf and cilantro. Without herb everything seems bland to me. These herbs are perfect to bring some zest to the sesame paste which could feel too heavy without.  Cucumber and aragula are refreshing food.

– a Thai inspired salad (laab nua, with minced meat): grounded pork marinated for at least 10′ with shallot, garlic, lemongrass, salt, sugar and soya sauce. Cook it . Once cooled down add very thinly cut lime leaf , grilled rice powder and raw shallots. Adjust seasoning with lime, fish sauce, sugar, hot chili. Spread some mint, cilantro and basil. Serve with carrot pickles.


With an Asian meal, NO ketchup on the table, NO cheese planned. Fusion but still.. 🙂

PS: and NO bread either.. unless you’re… God?! and I may make a gesture…

Do you also have these reluctence or am I the only one? what wouldn’t you combine with Asian food?