This past summer I finally got around to growing bitter melon (Carilie) successfully.. and if you’ve been a fan for a while you’ll know that it’s one of those ingredients I’ve disliked from the time I entered this world. If you’re wondering why I grew them in my garden, I guess I have two reasons. I wanted to prove I could do so in a cold climate like Canada where our growing seasoning is short and I know how much my mom and dad loves Carilie.
3 bitter melons
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/3 lb shrimp (or more)
1 teaspoon Caribbean Green Seasoning
2-3 tablespoon veg oil (divided)
1/2 teaspoon salt (adjust)
pinch of black pepper
1-5 birds eye peppers
3 cloves garlic (smashed)
ginger (sliced thin)
2 -3 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon brown sugar
Important! If doing this recipe gluten free please go through the full list of ingredients to make sure they meet with your specific gluten free dietary needs. Especially the curry powder you use as some may contain flour.
Peel, devin and wash the shrimp. Pat dry and season with the Caribbean Green Seasoning, curry powder and black pepper.
Heat a pan (I used a wok) on a medium flame and add 1/2 of the veg oil. Followed by the seasoned shrimp when the oil is hot. Stir for just over a minute then remove from the pan and set aside. We don’t want to overcook the shrimp.
With the flame now on low add the remaining oil, then go in with the bird’s eye peppers (give them a slice if you want to release some heat – see the video below). Cook on low for 2 minutes, then add the garlic and ginger. Stir well and cook for 30 seconds, so we don’t burn the garlic.
It’s now time to raise the heat to medium/low and add the prepped bitter melon. Basically you’ll trim off the ends, then cut it down the center length-wise. Then using a teaspoon you’ll scrape out the insides where there are the seeds etc and discard. Wash with cool water and slice into strips. (see the video below for the demo).
Add the pieces to the pan and give it a good stir to pick on the flavors already in the pan, followed by the salt and water.
The idea with the water is to help get the bitter melon tender. Cook on med/low for about 10 minutes or until tender. You can certainly adjust the cooking time if you want more crunchy or if you want it cooked softer. Taste for salt/adjust and if needed crank up the heat a bit if there’s still liquid at the bottom of the pan. The final thing you’ve got to do is add back the shrimp and brown sugar to the pan and cook for a minute, then you’re done.
Feel free to add a bit of chopped tomato if you’re concerned about the “bitterness” of the Carilie or you can do as I showed you all in a previous recipe – salt the Carilie after you slice them and allow to sit in the salt for about 30 minutes. Then squeeze and rinse off all the salt.
My dad is a diabetic and bitter melon is supposed to be a superfood for such illness. He also makes “tea” with the ‘bush’ (leaves/vines) of the plant. So with the abundance of both the vegetable and vines, he was in his own little word this summer, when they would come over on the weekends.
Do you own a copy of my cookbook ?- The Vibrant Caribbean Pot 100 Traditional And Fusion recipes Vol 2