Where food pairings go, I think chicken and bitter gourd is like a marriage made in heaven. I believe that those who do not like bitter gourd may find the vegetable more acceptable when cooked in this way. In this recipe, the chicken and bitter gourd are simmered in a claypot (苦瓜焖鸡) with a savoury taucheo (soya bean paste) sauce.
This is total comfort food to me. Claypot is excellent for braises and stews like this because not only does it add flavour to the food, it also conduct the heat evenly throughout the casserole and you can serve the dish right away in the claypot. I cooked this pot in advance and heat it up for dinner. If you do not have a claypot, you can still cook this dish using a wok or pot.
If you do not have a claypot, you can still cook this dish using a regular wok or pot.
Prep Time:10 mins
Cook Time:20 mins
half bitter gourd/bitter melon (about 300-400g)
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp tau cheo (soya bean paste)
1/2 tbsp black fermented beans rinsed, patted dry and mashed slightly with a fork
1/2 chicken cut to small pieces (you can also use chicken thighs and other cuts)
5 garlic cloves, peeled & bruised
5 slices ginger
1 tbsp Chinese wine (Hua Tiao/Shao Hsing)
light soy sauce to taste; optional
salt to taste
1 cup water
1/2 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
Cut the bitter gourd in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scrap out the seeds and white pulp. Rub some salt on the flesh portion and leave for a few minutes before rinsing the salt off. This will remove some of the bitterness (skip this step if you like it bitter). Slice the bitter gourd in half lengthwise again, then cut it to 2.5cm (1 inch) vertical slices.
Heat sesame oil in clay pot, stir fry tau cheo & fermented black beans until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add chicken pieces, bitter gourd, garlic and ginger. Stir fry until the chicken is no longer pink on the surface.
Add sauce (A) ingredients. Bring to a simmer. Cover claypot with lid and simmer for about 15 minutes.
Season to taste with light soy sauce or salt, if needed. If you like, add a splash of Chinese wine to the cooked stew as a finishing touch, and off the flame when you smell the lovely aroma of the wine.
Noob Cook Tip
If your claypot is not big enough to stir fry the chicken and bittergourd, stir fry them in a wok first (steps 2-4) and then transfer the contents of the wok to a clay pot to simmer.