Bitter gourd lives up to its name as it looks and tastes like a bitter cucumber, but this distinctive flavor has found its way as a favored addition to many Indian and Asian dishes. Like cucumbers, bitter gourds belong to the squash family and they have many names including bitter melon, balsam pear and foo qua. For the uninitiated, the bitterness can be off-putting, but proper preparation and cooking will let you enjoy the flavor of the bitter gourd without its astringency overwhelming you.
Peel the skin from the bitter gourd with a vegetable peeler or knife.
Slice the gourd in half, lengthwise.
Scrape out the seeds from the inner cavity with a spoon and discard the seeds.
Cut thinly the two halves of the bitter gourd into half-moon shaped slices.
Lay the slices in salt in a shallow bowl, turning the gourd pieces to cover all sides with salt. Set the salted slices in a colander for 20 minutes to help remove some of the bitterness.
Run cold water over the bitter gourd slices in the colander to rinse the salt off them.
Add your sliced bitter gourd to a stir fry recipe, soup, stew or scramble it with eggs.
Mix in the bitter gourd slices with the other vegetables in strongly flavored and rich dishes such as curries and those with bold-tasting fermented ingredients.
Stuff bitter gourd halves with cooked spicy meat or sausage by leaving the skin intact, cutting the fruit in half and removing the seeds. Coat the halves with salt for 20 minutes before rinsing and stuffing.