As with many Asian households, many remember growing up eating this fruit as a kid and not appreciating it until older, especially knowing all the amazing health benefits it holds. A very popular Vietnamese dish is the bittermelon stuffed with pork, cooked in a broth. I always did enjoy this soup, as it was very comforting. The bitterness was always prominent and I never cared for the bitter taste. When I was younger, I would enjoy it with a little bit of soysauce to cut the bitterness. Now I’ve grown to love the bitter taste. When I moved out of state for work, my mom would sometimes bring this when she visited, and I would always savor it. So this soup is special to me because it always reminds me of my mom and all the love and effort she puts into cooking this dish.
This year I am growing some white bittermelon in my garden for the first time, and of course one of the first things I want to do was learn to make the same soup my mom made me. As soon as I collected 4-5 bittermelons, I bought all the ingredients to make this wonderful soup.
The process is pretty simple…You cut in half and hollow out the insides of the bittermelon, then fill it with stuffing made with ground pork, glass noodles, wood ear mushrooms, onions, and various seasonings. The stuffed bittermelon then gets cooked in a bone broth made with chicken and/or pork until meat is fully cooked and bittermelon is soft. The leftover stuffing also get boiled in the broth to make meatballs. Sometimes I like eating it with rice, but this dish is just as delicious enjoyed as is.
You can also cook this dish with green bittermelon too, which is commonly found at the grocery stores. The difference in taste between the white and green bittermelons is that the white one is not as bitter. I did not have to do a salt preparation for the white bittermelon, as I would have with the green ones. I hope you enjoy this soup just as much as I do!
Stuffed White Bittermelon Soup
- 12 cups chicken broth
- 4 Bittermelons (stuffed)
- 1 tbsp Chicken bouillon powder
- 2 tbsp Fish sauce
- 1 tsp Salt
- Chopped Cilantro
- Chopped green onions
- To prepare the filling in a large bowl, mix ground pork with woodear mushroom, onions, and glass noodles together with the salt, sugar, garlic poweder, chicken bouillon powder, fish sauce, white and black pepper, and sesame oil.
- Fill the halved and hollowed bittermelons with filling.
- Bring broth to a boil and mix in chicken bouillon powder, fish sauce and salt. Then carefully add in stuffed bittermelons.
- To make meatballs from leftover filling, gently drop in in1.5 inch balls into the boiling broth with a large spoon. Cover and let everything in the soup simmer for about 30 minutes.
- Soup can be eaten with a bit of rice or as is, garnished with cilatro and green onions on top.