Bitter melon with beef and fermented black bean, and the story of the ‘left-behind’ children

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Bitter melon 苦瓜 with fermented black bean 豆豉 and beef

When I chatted with my friends over lunch today, I told them about the documentary about the left-behind children in Southern China.

These children lived in small and remote communities deep in the beautiful mountains in the GuangXi province, bordering Vietnam.  With limited land for farming, their parents left home to work in factories in the coastal cities.  Some children lived with their elderly grandparents. Some children, as young as 12 years old, looked after themselves and their younger siblings.

Living in leaky shacks, these children faced daily challenges with the lack of food, water, firewood, money for school, and loving care by parents.  Yet, the children were full of hope and spirit. Their daily chores, besides going to school, were fetching water, growing a few corns, collecting wild vegetables and cooking meals. The children looked forward to seeing their parents once a year during the Luna holiday, when the massive migration of workers returned home to their families.

Amazing resilience, their unique stories filled with sadness and joy.

“I was a left-behind child too, together with my younger brother and sister,’ say my friend Loyd, who came from Malaysia.  “I  was cared by my grandparents until I was 9 years old. My parents worked at a logging site in the forest.  My dad leased out equipment to the workers, while my mum worked as an administration clerk for the big logging company.”

” How do you feel about it, growing up without parents?” I was curious.

“This was the life we were given. We appreciated what we had.” Loyd said.

I always look up to this man, kind, respectful and calm.  Life is good for him and his family.

I cooked a bitter melon dish tonight.  Bitter melon is an unusual vegetable with bumpy husk and a peculiar peppery taste.  Some people hate its bitterness, yet many more appreciate the humble and unique deliciousness it offers.

Life is good when you appreciate it.

Easy stir fry method is as follows:

Ingredients

  • 1 bitter melon, approx 250g, cut in half, remove vain and seeds, sliced
  • 150g beef, sliced
  • 2 tsp of fermented black bean, crashed lightly
  • 2 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • a few slices of ginger
  • 2 tsp oyster sauce
  • 2 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp cooking oil
  • white pepper, to taste
  • a little chili, seeds removed, sliced (optional)
Bitter melons
Bitter melon
Salted fermented black bean
Salted fermented black bean

One thought on “Bitter melon with beef and fermented black bean, and the story of the ‘left-behind’ children

    mylifeasishan said:
    May 29, 2016 at 7:30 am

    Looks great

    Like

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