Bitter Squash (苦瓜)
Bitter Squashes are widely grown in Asia having been introduced to China during the 14th century, and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They resemble cucumbers, but has a distinct exterior that are similar to warts. The insides of bitter squashes are hollow in cross-section, with a central seed cavity. As bitter squashes mature, their flesh becomes tougher and bitter. The sizes of these squashes vary, and can grown between 20-30 cm in length. Bitter squashes are extremely common throughout the warm season of May to October, and as the name suggests they are known for their bitter taste.
Bitter melons are incredibly important sources of high nutrition. Many of the health benefits include helping with diverse diseases or conditions, including ulcers, constipation, kidney stones, fevers and liver disease. Bitter melons are rich in vitamins such as B1, B2 and C3, and other minerals such as magnesium and zinc. Throughout history, the melon and the seeds have been used within a variety of medicines.
To prepare and cook this vegetable, blanch it to remove some of its bitterness, and season with some sugar. Make sure to wash it well, remove the seeds and chop as desired. If you want to boil bitter melons, simmer for 2-3 minutes until it is soft, but not too tender. The beauty of cooking with bitter melons is that they absorb the flavours of other vegetables within dishes. They can be added into stir-fries, soups, and along side meats. However, it must be noted that one should no excessively consume bitter melons, as it may lead to diarrhea.