In Thailand a strongly flavored stir-fry such as this one would be considered more a condiment than a vegetable dish, and should be served with plenty of hot jasmine rice. Bitter melon is available year-round in Asian markets.
- 2 medium bitter melons
- 6 tbsp. peanut oil
- 1 lb. medium shrimp, peeled, deveined, and butterflied
- 8 medium garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 3 tbsp. fermented black beans, coarsely chopped
- 1⁄4 cup shaoxing (Chinese rice wine)
- 1 tbsp. soy sauce
- 2 tsp. sugar
- 1 small dried red chile, stemmed and crushed
- Freshly ground white pepper
- 4 cups steamed jasmine rice
Trim and discard ends of bitter melons, then cut melons in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds and pith with a small metal spoon and discard. Slice melon halves crosswise into thin pieces and set aside.
Heat oil in a wok over high heat, swirling to coat the surface of the wok. When the oil is shimmering, add shrimp and stir-fry until they turn pink and are just cooked through, about 1 1⁄2 minutes. Transfer shrimp to a bowl with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Reduce heat to medium-high. Add garlic to wok and stir-fry until golden and fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add fermented black beans, stir-fry 15 seconds, then add bitter-melon slices and stir-fry 1 minute longer. Add shaoxing and stir-fry 1 minute. Add soy sauce, sugar, and chiles and stir-fry until bitter melon is just tender, 2-3 minutes. Return shrimp to wok and stir-fry until heated through. Season to taste with pepper and serve with bowls of steamed jasmine rice.