A group of friends brought me to lunch last week. At first it looked like any other coffee shop, until I walked towards one of the food stalls. At Zai Shun Curry Fish Head, there were three long rows of cooked Teochew dishes lining the stall, and they were enticing enough to make me salivate. But that was not what we had come here for, my foodie friends reminded me.
At the side of the coffee stall sat about 8 large styrofoam boxes; and inside them were a wide variety of fish, reserved, I was told, for regular patrons. However, I shall reserve that fishy story for a future post.
My friends were raving about another dish. When the dish arrived, it turned out to be bitter gourd cooked with salted egg and omelette. The combination intrigued me. With the first bite, the taste of preserved yellow bean paste hit me instantly. This paste was definitely no stranger to Teochew cooking. Besides cooking with it, the paste was also versatile as a wonderful dip for steamed seafood. The salted egg provided another level of saltiness to the dish. I loved the dish, and tried to replicate it at home. This may not be the actual recipe, but I think it’s close enough!
Bitter Gourd with Salted Egg and Omelette
Bitter gourd 250 g, deseeded and sliced thinly
Salt 2 tbsp
Water 4 cups
White vinegar 1 tbsp
Salted egg 1, boiled and chopped coarsely
Oil 2 tbsp
Egg 1, beaten
Preserved yellow bean paste 1½ tsp
Garlic 1, minced
Sugar ½ tbsp
Stock 4 tbsp
Corn flour 1 tsp, mixed with 1 tbsp of stock
1. Pour salt over the bitter gourd and let it sit for 20 minutes. Rinse the bitter gourd thoroughly and squeeze the water out. Blanch bitter gourd in boiling water and white vinegar for 30 seconds and drain. Soak the bitter gourd in chilled water to stop it cooking. Drain and set aside.
2. Fry egg into an omelette and break it into pieces with a spatula. Add the omelette to the bitter gourd.
3. Saute preserved bean paste, garlic and sugar over a medium fire. Add a tsp of water if necessary to prevent it from being burnt.
4. Once the preserved bean paste is cooked, increase the flame to high. Add bitter gourd and omelette and fry for 3 minutes.
5. Add stock and salted egg and continue to fry for another 1 minute.
6. Pour corn flour mixture and stir until the sauce thickens.
7. Serve immediately.
Note: If you prefer a softer version of the bitter gourd, simmer for a minute or two longer.