In all my years of eating and cooking, I have only recently embraced bittergourd into my cooking repertoire. I was visiting my mum and she was wondering what to do with the leftover roast pork she had in the fridge. She suggested doing a stir-fried bittergourd with roast pork dish, which I've heard of but never tried before. I can't remember if she ever cooked that during my childhood, but back then, I shunned anything that had bittergourd in it. I was a picky eater when I was young. Dare I admit that I never ate my veggies until I was in my late teens. Okay, my kids don't have to know this. Really.
Anyway, back to the bittergourd. I decided to use beef instead of roast pork in this dish, cooked with salted black beans. To make it a one-dish meal, I tossed it with some flat egg noodles (we call this Mee Pok in Singapore, though I'm not sure why) and added a splash of black vinegar, and it turned out to be a most slurp-worthy and delicious bowl of noodles.
Mee Pok (Flat Egg Noodles) with Beef and Bittergourd
1 medium-sized bittergourd
Vegetable oil for frying
200g beef, thinly sliced
1 tbsp black beans, minced to a paste
2 tsp salted soy beans, minced to a paste
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1 tbsp chopped red chillies (optional)
1 tbsp Chinkiang black vinegar (or to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped scallions/spring onions
Sriracha or chilli sauce (optional)
300g flat egg noodles ("mee pok"), cooked in boiling water until al dente
Seasoning (combine in a bowl):
1 1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tsp Cheong Chan thick caramel
1 tbsp chinese cooking wine
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp chicken stock powder
4 tbsp water
1/2 tbsp light soy sauce
Dash of black pepper
Pinch of salt and sugar
1 tsp cornflour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp water
Cut bittergourd lengthwise into quarters. Remove the seeds and scrape off the spongy white part (as this is the bitter part). Slice into 6mm-thick pieces. Sprinkle with salt, set aside for 1/2 hour. Then squeeze out all the water. Rinse the bittergourd and drain well. Blanch in boiling water for 5 minutes until just tender but not too soft. Drain and rinse under cold running water. Set aside.
Combine beef with marinade. Set aside for 20 minutes.
Heat up 1 tbsp oil in a wok. Fry the beef on high heat for 3 minutes until almost cooked. Dish out and set aside.
Heat up 1 tbsp oil in the wok. Fry the minced black beans and soy beans, followed by the garlic and chillies. Add the bittergourd and fry for 1 minute. Push these to the side of the wok and add seasoning ingredients and bring to a boil on high heat. Add the beef and fry briskly to coat in the sauce. Toss the noodles in the wok and add a splash of black vinegar, more or less to taste. Add a dash of pepper, and salt to taste. Dish out into individual serving plates and garnish with chopped scallions. Serve immediately with chilli sauced if desired.