Fried bitter gourd omelette is an easy and quick Chinese meal done in 20 minutes. Enjoy tender, juicy bitter gourd slices nestled in a fluffy and flavourful omelette lightly seasoned with Asian seasonings. Delicious and nutritious for the whole family!
Fried bitter gourd omelette is a classic Chinese comfort dish. This is one of the easiest meals you can cook in the kitchen. In fact, I remember when I was little, it was a lot easier putting this omelette together than hauling our family’s ridiculously heavy wok onto the stove.
Mind you, back in the 70’s, we never had lightweight material for cookware. Mom and Dad had different sized woks, all made with heavy cast iron, and huge stock pots.
Everything was cooked over gas burners. Those were the days when we could get intense flames going under the wok, unlike the domestic gas stoves we have now. Oh, how I loved frying in those woks over the huge fires! It was the closest we could get our food to taste of wok hey.
How to enjoy bitter gourd
For most of us, enjoying bitter gourd is more of an acquired taste. I must confess I used to loathe eating this vegetable. Growing up, bitter gourd omelette was my mother’s way of introducing this vegetable to me and my siblings. It worked with the boys, except us girls. My older sister and I mostly nibbled the fluffy omelette around the bitter gourd slices. However, Mom and Dad were not amused, I can tell you!
But I began to discover that once you get past the initial burst of bitterness, there was a sweetness to it as well. So, I started to appreciate it just a bit more. And a bit became a lot. Now, I am totally loving it!
The key to a delicious bitter gourd omelette is seasoning
If you’ve eaten bitter gourd, you’ll know that this is one of the most bitter vegetables on the planet. Which begs the question, how on earth is this omelette going to taste palatable, even delicious you might ask?
The secret lies in the seasoning of the eggs. Flavoured with light soy sauce, sesame oil, Chinese wine, salt and pepper, you can create a really flavourful omelette base. When pan frying the omelette, we beat the eggs vigorously just before tipping into a hot wok. This will keep the omelette light and fluffy. Just don’t be tempted to press down on the omelette as it cooks.
These seasonings are few and simple, yet makes for incredibly tasty and versatile Chinese style omelettes. This savoury omelette can also be used for creating popular Chinese egg dishes like this delicious egg foo young.
More a fruit than a vegetable!
Yes, you read it right, the bitter gourd is really closer to a fruit than a vegetable! But it’s widely regarded as a vegetable because of it’s appearance and colour. The common variety here are the long, oblong shaped ones with a distinct warty appearance.
If you slice a bitter gourd length-wise or cross-sectionally, you’ll see a hollow cavity lined with a soft, spongy whitish pith filled with seeds. In young bitter gourd, the seeds are white but turn red as it ripens. When eaten raw, bitter gourd is juicy and crunchy, similar to cucumbers and bell peppers.
How to prep and slice bitter gourd
Wash the bitter gourd by rubbing its surface thoroughly all over with your hands under light running water. Depending on what type of dish we’re cooking, here’s how to remove the pith and seeds and slice.
- For thin or thick ‘C’-shaped slices. Cut in half length-wise. Using a spoon, scrape the cavity to remove the pith and seeds from both halves of the bitter gourd. Place one half on your cutting board, the hollow cavity facing down. Slice thinly or thickly, straight or at a slant, as desired. C-shaped slices are commonly for stir-frying.
- For thin or thick strips. This is similar to how you would slice carrot strips for dipping in a dressing. Cut the bitter gourd in half length-wise. Remove the pith and seeds. Now, slice the length of each half into 2-inch sections. Slice each section into thin or thick strips, as desired. Strips are also ideal for frying.
- For ‘O’-slices or rings. Start with a whole, uncut butter gourd. Slice cross-sectionally into thick slices (rings). Then, remove the pith and seeds from each slice or ring. Bitter gourd rings or slices are best used filled with stuffing like minced meat.
Help! Can bitter gourd be made less bitter?
In a simple answer, yes! Bitter gourd can be made a lot less bitter in just one or two easy steps. When you’ve removed its seeds and sliced it, rub some salt into the slices. Let the slices sit for 10 -15 minutes. You will see a bit of juices pool at the base of your bowl. Drain the bitter juices.
If you want it even less bitter, you can grab handfuls and squeeze more juices out of it. After squeezing, bitter gourd won’t turn to mush but will be considerably softened. But do this only with sliced or julienned bitter gourd, not with sliced rings. Then rinse a few times to remove any residual salt, and use as desired.
Like this recipe? Here are more egg and vegetable dishes you might like:
- Cantonese Stir-Fried Bitter Gourd Omelette
- Steamed Eggs with Spicy Bean Paste
- Steamed Eggs with Minced Meat
- Steamed Bitter Gourd Stuffed with Minced Pork
- Stir-fried Bean Sprouts with Salted Fish