This dish originated from a craving for soy curl BBQ, believe it or not. One thought led to another, and next thing I knew, I was grabbing a bitter melon or ampalaya from the fridge and getting to work. I’ve eaten a lot of ampalaya and I’ve eaten it in many, many ways, but I’ve never had it like this.
I made this using one relatively small (6-7 inches) bitter melon, so adjust the recipe measurements as needed if you have lots of melons.
Stuffed Bitter Melon
1 bitter melon
1 cup soy curls (I use Butler)
1 tbsp plum sauce
1 tsp chili garlic sauce
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
I cut the bitter melon in half lengthwise, scooped out its guts, and then put it in a bowl of salt water and let it soak. This helps to remove some of the bitterness. I then took the soy curls and put them in a bowl of water to rehydrate. While the melon and soy curls were both soaking, I minced the garlic and ginger.
When the soy curls were ready, I chopped them into small pieces to facilitate stuffing the melon halves. Then I browned them in a pan for about three minutes. I have started sprinkling Butler’s Chik-Style Seasoning whenever I cook soy curls to give it a more meaty flavor. This is totally optional!
I removed the soy curls from heat, placed them in a bowl, and coated them with the plum sauce, chili garlic sauce, and minced garlic and ginger. While the flavors marinaded for a bit, I got back to my bitter melon halves and rinsed them very well to remove all the salt.
I placed the halves in a baking pan and stuffed them with the soy curl mixture. Then I baked them at 325 degrees in the toaster oven for 10 minutes and raised the temp to 350 for the last five minutes. If you use a regular oven, I would bake them at 350 degrees straight for 15 minutes. You may need to keep it in there longer if you want the bitter melons to be tender. I like my melons with a little crunch.
Oh my goodness. OH MY GOODNESS! This was so delicious. It was sweet, spicy, and subtly bitter. I ate it with some rice, but it’s yummy all on its own. I’m glad to report that this was omnivore-approved. If you don’t have bitter melon, bell peppers would probably make a good substitute.
Let me take a minute to praise Butler Soy Curls. This product has seriously upped my excitement for vegan cooking. You can buy them directly from Butler in bulk or from Vegan Essentials, which is a Turning Veganese favorite.
Soy curls stuffed in bitter melon. Who knew?! Happy eating and experimenting, everyone! –Melissa