Bitter melons are available fresh from April through September in Asian markets and also are sold canned or dried. They can be refrigerated in a plastic bag for up to a week. When buying bitter melons, choose green ones if a less bitter taste is desired or yellow ones for a stronger, more bitter flavor. Before it is cooked, the fruit should be cut lengthwise to remove the seeds and the surrounding white fibers. The skin can be either left intact or removed. Bitter melons are always cooked before eating. In India, bitter melons are combined with potatoes or lentils and seasoned with cumin and turmeric. In China, they are steamed or used as an ingredient in soup. They can be thinly sliced and stir-fried with eggs, meats, or other vegetables.
Stuffed with meat, shrimp, wood ears, and thin rice noodles, bitter melons can be braised in a light broth to make a bittersweet soup. The young leaves of the plant can be boiled and stir-fried like greens or used fresh in salads.
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