Like quality dark chocolate or a chunk of strong cheese, this week’s Mom’s 52 recipe can be considered an acquired taste. Canh O Qua – Bitter Melon Soup is a dish that little kids probably run from, but if you give it a try in adulthood, you could be pleasantly surprised at how much you like it.
The key to minimizing the bitter flavor of Canh O Qua is to scrape out as much of the fuzzy inner rind as possible. Even if you can’t handle all of the bitter melon, the stuffing of Canh O Qua is so savory and delicious, it’s still worth trying this Vietnamese recipe.
Canh O Qua – Bitter Melon Soup
For the Canh O Qua stuffing:
- 1/2 lb. ground pork
- 10 medium shrimp, smashed (use the back end of a large knife)
- 1/2 tsp. sugar
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 3 tsp. nuoc mam (fish sauce)
- 1/4 tsp. onion powder
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 2 stalks green onion, chopped
- 1/4 C. chopped white onions
- 1 egg
- 1/4 C. dried black fungus/mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 15 minutes to rehydrate, then drained & chopped
- 6 small bitter melons, washed & halved (cut off the ends)
For the Canh O Qua broth:
- 3 C. chicken broth
- 3 C. water
- 2.5 Tbsp. nuoc mam (fish sauce)
- 3 tsp. sugar
STEP 1: STUFF THE BITTER MELON
- Combine all of the Canh O Qua stuffing ingredients, except the bitter melon. Mix well.
- Using a sharp knife, remove the inners of the bitter melon. Scrape out as much of the fuzzy white rind as possible because this is the source of the bitter flavor.
- Stuff the bitter melon. Try to get as much stuffing into the bitter melons as possible. Stuff them right to the edge.
STEP 2: MAKE THE CANH O QUA BROTH
- Place the Canh O Qua broth ingredients into a large pot. Heat the broth to boiling.
- Gently add the stuffed bitter melon to the boiling broth. Adjust the heat to simmer Canh O Qua for 20-30 minutes, depending on how soft you like your bitter melon. The bright color of the bitter melon will fade to an olive hue as it cooks.
That’s it! Serve over white rice and garnished with chopped green onions or cilantro. Enjoy!
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