Soft tofu, scrambled eggs, and rich pork belly stand up to the astringent bitter melon flesh in this flavorful stir-fry. Salting the melon leaches out much of its harsh tannins, so don’t skip this step or the dish will be unpalatably bitter.
- 3 small bitter melons (about 12 oz.)
- 2 tbsp. kosher salt
- 7 oz. extra-firm tofu
- 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 4 oz. pork belly, skin removed, thinly sliced crosswise
- 1⁄3 cup dashi (see Noodles in Dashi for recipe)
- 1 tbsp. soy sauce
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1⁄4 cup bonito flakes
- Koregusu (Okinawan chile sauce), optional
- Cut each bitter melon in half lengthwise and, using a spoon, remove and discard the seeds. Slice the bitter melons crosswise into 1⁄4-inch-thick half-moons and transfer to a medium bowl. Add the salt, toss until evenly combined, and let stand for 20 minutes. Using your hands, squeeze the bitter melon to release as much liquid as possible, then transfer to a colander and rinse under cold running water. Squeeze again to drain any liquid, transfer to paper towels, and pat dry.
- Place the tofu on a flat plate lined with a kitchen towel. Cover the tofu with another towel and plate and then weight the plate with two 32-oz. cans to press the tofu and release excess water. Let the tofu stand for at least 20 minutes. Remove the weights and uncover the tofu. Using your hands, crumble the tofu into 1-inch pieces into a large bowl.
- In a 12-inch skillet, heat the oil over high. Add the bitter melon and pork and cook, undisturbed, for 5 minutes. Stir and cook 2 minutes more. Add the tofu along with the dashi and soy sauce and cook until the liquid has almost completely evaporated, about 1 minute. Pour in the eggs and cook, stirring to break up the curds, until the eggs are just cooked, 1 to 2 minutes more. Remove the skillet from the heat and scrape the stir-fry onto a serving platter. Sprinkle with bonito flakes and serve immediately with the koregusu, if using.