Learn how to make a homestyle stuffed bitter melon soup that is often made in Vietnamese households. This soup is definitely an acquired taste, and if you want a traditional soup to eat with jasmine rice, this is a great recipe to try.
Vietnamese Canh Kho Qua is a homestyle soup made with a bitter melon that is stuffed with seasoned ground pork that celebrates bitterness as something to crave. In Vietnamese dishes, bitterness is a flavor that is often celebrated and incorporated while being balanced with other dishes. Vietnamese Canh Kho Qua, bitter melon soup, is served with a side of jasmine rice.
Children growing up in Vietnamese households will have fond memories of being served their family's version of this homemade dish, often to their dismay. The most common refute is, "It is bitter, but it's really good for you." Most often, kids will eat the filing with the rice, forgoing any part of the stewed bitter melon. I promise you, this dish can transform over a few decades from traumatic due to it's bitterness to nostalgic. Just give it a few decades.
As those kids grow older, the bitterness becomes an acquired taste and becomes something to actually crave. Once you hone in your taste buds, most will tend to come back to this dish and enjoy it.
I know with my own kids, they grimaced when I started serving this bowl. These days with kids of their own, they come over asking for me to serve it because they miss having it!
that served this will either love or hate. Generally, there is no gray when it comes to this dish.
Canh Kho Qua is one of this childhood memories that most Vietnamese children grow up with.
All About Vietnamese Stuffed Bitter Melon Soup Canh Kho Qua
What does Canh Kho Qua taste like?
Canh Kho Qua is a homestyle Vietnamese dish that has sweet flavor of ground pork melded with an unusually bitter flavor due to the usage of bitter melon.
While this dish is bitter, it is definitely a light fare that provides a refreshing palette cleanser. When cooked, the bitter melon becomes really tender and soft as it is stewed in the flavorful broth. When you bite into the filling, the sweetness of the meat will allow the bitterness of the melon to meld beautifully with the ground pork.
Canh Kho Qua is an acquired taste that most grow accustomed to over time, and may even crave in the future.
What are other names for Canh Kho Qua and what does it mean?
Formally in Vietnamese, bitter melon is known as as mướp đắng, with đắng meaning bitter. However, in common Vietnamese language, people call it kho qua. In Chinese mandarin, the term for bitter melon is ku gua and it is often thought that the Vietnamese term kho qua was a phonetic translation of bitter melon.
Where did Canh Kho Qua originate from?
Stuffed bitter melon soup is a traditional soup that originates from Vietnam.
How do you pronounce Canh Kho Qua?
Canh Kho Qua is pronounced with Canh pronounced with a long A, rhyming with the "Autobahn". Kho is pronounced like the word "who". Qua is pronounced with the word "kwaah".
When is Canh Kho Qua served?
While it can be served during any family meal, you'll often find this dish served during Tet, which is Vietnamese Lunar New Year.
About Bitter Melon
Bitter melon has a variety of benefits when consumed and are renowned for their high nutrient content with really beneficial health claims.
Bitter melon is often known for assisting with maintaining blood sugar levels because it increases the metabolism of glucose, which reduces the sugar spikes. It also reduces high acids that form kidney stones. Also, it is said to help with skin issues like eczema, psoriasis,and acne. It is said to be packed with vitamin C, vitamin A, and fiber.
Bitter melon and bitter melon juice is a gourd that provides amazing nutritional benefits.
Asian Grocery Store List for Vietnamese Stuffed Bitter Melon Soup Canh Kho Qua
While bitter melon is definitely the bitterest of vegetables, they aren't all the same amount of bitter. You can choose your level of bitterness tolerance by simply choosing based on the color. The ripe ones that are yellow and orange tend to be milder. The young ones are a deep green, which tend to be more bitter (and most often used in traditional recipes).
Another tip in choosing bitter melons is choosing one that has longer and lengthier grooves. An old wives tale says that those that have more small lumps indicate a more bitter melon. If you want a milder flavor, go for ones that have larger and longer lumps.
Tips and Tricks Before Making Vietnamese Stuffed Bitter Melon Soup Canh Kho Qua
My recipe does not include vermicelli bean thread noodles. You can definitely do it to add more texture and lessen the bitterness of the dish, but I like to keep my recipe making simple.
You can choose to blanch the bitter melon to remove some of the bitterness. To do this, boil water and blanch the entire bitter melon gourd for about 60 seconds. Remove it, and allow it to cool. Once cooled, you can core and stuff per the usual recipe.
Coring Bitter Melon Tips
An easy way to core bitter melon is by using a narrow paring knife to hollow the gourd. First, cut the bitter melon in half. Next, insert the knife into the white flesh and remove it until the green shell of the gourd is left.
How to Make Authentic Vietnamese Stuffed Bitter Melon Soup Canh Kho Qua Recipe
Vietnamese Stuffed Bitter Melon Soup is made using fresh, green bitter melons that have been cored. It is then filled with ground pork (and even shrimp) that is mixed with bean thread vermicelli noodles, wood ear mushrooms, then stewed into a light soup that is then accompanied with jasmine rice.
Ingredients for Vietnamese Stuffed Bitter Melon Soup Canh Kho Qua
- Pork neck bones for stock
- 1 pound of ground pork
- 3 shallots, minced
- 1 tablespoon of salt
- 1 tablespoon of fish sauce
- 2 whole eggs, beaten
- ½ black pepper
- 4 bitter melon gourds, about 1 foot in length
Instructions for Making Vietnamese Stuffed Bitter Melon Soup
- Bring a pot of water to a boil (approximately a gallon). Add in pork neck bones. Boil for 15 minutes, removing impurities from the top as they float up.
- Prepare the filling by mixing the ground pork, shallots, salt, fish sauce, eggs, and black pepper together in a bowl.
- Cut the bitter melons in half so you can stuff them. .
- Core the middle flesh until only green outer layer is visible.
- Stuff the melons with the ground pork mixture.
- You can optionally remove the neckbones (or keep them if you plan on eating the flesh around them).
- Add in the stuffed melons, simmer on low to medium for 90 minutes. Continue checking and filling the water as it evaporates.
- Serve with jasmine rice.
Preserving Canh Kho Qua Recipe
Canh Kho Qua can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
Summary About Vietnamese Stuffed Bitter Melon Soup Canh Kho Qua Recipe
Canh Kho Qua has a ton of flavor. While some Vietnamese children have residual shudders from their childhood when served a traditional bowl of Canh Kho Qua, most of those adults have come to appreciate this dish for this amazingly bitter gourd after acquiring those taste buds that take years to master. It's a comforting taste of home that most will learn how to appreciate.
Other Homestyle Recipes from Vietnam You Might Like
Here are some additional authentic and delicious homestyle Vietnamese recipes that you will love:
- Thit Heo Quay - Crispy Crunchy Pork Belly
- Bun Rieu - Pork and Crab Noodle Soup
- Thit Kho - Caramelized & Braised Pork with Eggs
- Banh Xeo - Pancake Crepe with Pork, Shrimp, and Bean Sprouts
- Banh Uot - Steamed Rice Rolls
- Vietnamese Cabbage and Pork Soup - Canh Bap Cai