It’s not every day that a food blogger tells you NOT to make one of her recipes, but the truth is, if you’ve never tried bitter melon before, there’s a 99% chance you’re not going to like this dish. This recipe is for those of us who grew up eating karela (bitter melon) and enjoy its strange flavor. It’s an acquired taste – very acquired – so for those who decide to make this Karela stir-fry having never tried it before… you’ve been warned.
There’s a reason this fruit is named bitter melon. When I was a kid, I thought I was being punished when my parents asked me to eat karela. As an adult, I find its bitterness intriguing, so unpalatable that with every bite, I seriously question my taste for enjoying something so ridiculously bitter. I wonder if other bitter melon fans feel the same way. Maybe we’ve learned to like it because of its supposed health benefits?
A strange analogy, but I’m going to compare bitter melon to beer.
I hated beer the first time I tried it, and truthfully, I still do… but most people eventually learn to love it. So, if you hate karela now, maybe one day you’ll wake up and decide that you’re in the mood for something extremely bitter – or maybe not. An interesting little fact – in China, bitter melon is sometimes used in place of hops in beer. So, maybe the beer analogy isn’t so strange after all. 😉
You don’t have to peel the karela when you make it, but doing so helps remove some of the bitterness. I love pairing bitter melon with sweet caramelized onions.
Have you tried karela before?
- Using a vegetable peeler, peel the bitter melon.
- Slice the bitter melon into ¼ inch slices and remove as many seeds as possible (the rest will be easy to remove once cooked).
- Add 3 tablespoons of avocado oil to a pan over medium heat. Then add the bitter melon slices and stir-fry for 5 minutes.
- Add the spices and mix well. Cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes, checking on it halfway to make sure the vegetable isn’t burning.
- Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of avocado oil and the onion, give the pan a good stir then reduce the heat to low-medium heat.
- Put the cover back on and cook for 30 minutes, stirring every few minutes, until the onions have caramelized.