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Instant Pot Thai Pork-Filled Ampalaya Soup

This Thai Pork-Filled Ampalaya-Bitter Melon Soup is a beautiful vegetable-meat combination that is a meal in itself.  ‘Ampalaya is how Filipinos call the bitter melon. This vegetable, with its almost gourd-like consistency is packed with nutrients and can provide tremendous health benefits. Prepare the ground pork stuffing with rice wine and soy sauce. Stuff the ampalaya slices and drop them into boiling broth. When it’s cooked, you can enjoy the soupy vegetable-pork dish over rice. This is an Asian in America recipe that's good for any day of the week and serves 2 to 4. The recipe below offers two options: cooking in an Instant Pot or stove-top.

Ingredients

  • 1 large or 2 medium-sized pieces sliced, seeds and white membrane removed ampalaya (bitter melon)
  • 1/2 pound for filling ground pork
  • 1 Tablespoon for filling shao xing rice wine
  • 2 Tablespoons for filling soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves peeled, minced garlic
  • 1 whole chopped onion
  • 2 teaspoons patis fish sauce
  • 8 cups organic vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • for serving steamed rice

Instructions

  • To cook in the Instant Pot:
  • Wash the ampalaya and slice in 1/2 inch-sized pieces. Using a small, sharp knife remove and discard the white membrane with the seeds in the center. Set aside the ampalaya slices.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the filling ingredients: pork, rice wine, soy sauce. Mix well. Stuff the center of the ampalaya pieces with 1 to 2 teaspoons of the pork filling. Set aside the meat-filled ampalaya slices.
  • Preheat the Instant Pot by selecting Saute.
  • After 1 to 2 minutes, when the inside pot becomes hot, add the garlic and onions. Saute till garlic is fragrant and onions are translucent in about 2 minutes. Add the patis (fish sauce) to the mixture.
  • Click Cancel to turn off the Saute function.
  • Pour the vegetable broth into the inside pot. Add the stuffed ampalaya slices. Season with salt and black pepper.
  • Secure the lid of the Instant Pot. Check that the release valve is set to Sealing.
  • Select Manual and cook at High Pressure for 8 minutes.
  • When the Instant Pot whistle signals that cooking is complete, use a quick release.
  • Carefully open the lid. Stir soup gently. Ladle into individual bowls and serve warm with rice.
  • Note:After the initial Saute, it takes about 17 to 20 minutes for the Instant Pot to pre-heat before the High Pressure cooking time begins.
  • To cook stove-top:
  • Wash and slice the ampalaya into 1/2-inch sized pieces. With a small knife, remove and discard the inner white membrane which has the seeds. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, mix the ground pork, soy sauce and rice wine.
  •  Stuff each ampalaya segment with approximately 1 to 2 teaspoons of the ground meat mixture.  Set aside.
  • In a large stockpot, over medium high heat, place the vegetable oil. Saute the garlic, onions and patis.
  • Add the vegetable broth. Cove and let the broth to boil.
  • Into the boiling broth, drop the stuffed ampalaya slices. Season with  salt and pepper. Cook for 16 to 18 minutes or till vegetable turns a light green-yellow hue and softens. Serve piping hot in individual soup bowls.
  • Cook's comments:  If preferred, ground beef is also a good substitute for pork in this recipe.
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