Comfort Cooking

Covid-19 stay-home recipe: Back to basics with bittergourd

At a loss as to what to cook today? Fret not. In this daily series, STFood Online Editor Hedy Khoo features nourishing recipes you can whip up during the circuit breaker month

This dish of bittergourd with salted eggs is comforting fare for turbulent times. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

Take bittergourd to the next level by simply adding salted eggs.

I fell in love with mini bittergourd on a trip to Okinawa several years back. It is the star of an Okinawan dish called goya champuru, a stir-fry of bittergourd and pork.

Recently, a senior acquaintance waxed lyrical about how delicious bittergourd fried with salted egg is.

It is an easy dish to cook. I am not above taking shortcuts such as using cooked salted eggs - I had them in my fridge.

To cook raw salted eggs, remove the outer layer of salted charcoal paste and wash the eggs until they are clean.

Place them in a pot with enough water to cover them by 5cm. Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat and keep the pot covered for 14 minutes.

Remove the eggs from the pot and allow them to cool before use.

A foodie friend said all he needs is a bowl of plain rice to go with this bittergourd dish and it will make him happy.

While we may miss the experience of dining at our favourite hawker stall or restaurant, basic home-cooking can help keep ourselves occupied and free from anxiety in these uncertain times.

So stay home and keep cooking.

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2 mini bittergourds (250g)

1 Tbs cooking oil

2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 cooked salted eggs (120g), coarsely mashed

40ml water

2 eggs (120g), beaten

Dash of white pepper

1 pinch of salt

1 pinch of sugar


1. Halve each bittergourd lengthwise and use a spoon to scrape away the seeds. Slice.

2. Heat the cooking oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat.

3. Add the garlic and fry for 30 seconds.

4. Add the salted egg and fry for 45 seconds, then add the bittergourd. Fry for one minute.

5. Add water and continue frying for two minutes.

6. Add the beaten eggs. Stir through.

7. Season with white pepper, salt and sugar.

8. Fry for another 1½ minutes until the eggs are cooked through.

9. Serve immediately.

Makes two servings

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 17, 2020, with the headline Comfort Cooking: Back to basics with bittergourd. Subscribe