Asian Stew with Chicken Meatballs, Bitter Melon and Chinese Broccoli


This is an aromatic, light Asian stew for a cold winter's night. If you have a well stocked Asian pantry, the recipe list won't seem so daunting. I've made variations of this dish depending on what produce is available. Serve this in large bowls with steamed jasmine rice.

Serves 4-6
Time: 30 mins. prep, 30 mins. cooking time


1 lg. bunch of Chinese broccoli/broccoli rabe, chopped
1 lg. bunch of cilantro, chopped
1 lg. bitter melon/zucchini, seeded and chopped (optional)
1/2 lg.onion, minced
1-2 shallots, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1" piece of ginger, minced
1-3 Thai chilies/1 scotch bonnet pepper, minced (optional)
2 1/2 – 3 lbs. of ground chicken, turkey, or pork
2 tbsp. cracked black pepper
1 tbsp. oyster sauce
2 tbsp. light soy sauce
1 tsp. fish sauce
1 qt. chicken stock/filtered water
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 tsp. salt or to taste


Finely mince or process the onion, shallots, garlic, ginger, and chili.(a mortar & pestle is great for this process too) Reserve half of mixture for stir frying with the vegetables.

Use a large bowl to combine the rest of the above mixture with the ground chicken, oyster sauce, soy sauce, 1 tsp. salt and 1 tbsp. black pepper then roll out 30-40 small meatballs. (use water and oil to coat hands while shaping meat in palms then set on a tray)

You can skip the meatball shaping section if you're low on time. Just stir fry the meat in oil with the above ingredients, then set aside. This will cut out at least 20 mins. of prep/cook/clean up time.

Chop Chinese broccoli, cilantro, and bitter melon.

Heat 1 tbsp. of oil in a large wok/ deep non-stick pot/skillet on med-high then brown meatballs for a few minutes. Be careful not to over crowd the meat. You may need to brown the meat in two batches. Set cooked meatballs aside on tray. This would be a good time to rinse some jasmine rice and put it on to steam.

Reheat your wok/pot/skillet on med-high and heat 1 tbsp. of oil, then saute the reserved mixture from the first step for a few minutes until onions are translucent. Add the Chinese broccoli, bitter melon, cilantro. Stir fry for a few more minutes then add stock and meatballs and bring to a boil.

Once everything comes to a boil. Skim off any scum that rises to the surface. Turn down heat to simmer for about 15-20 mins. (10 mins. if using loose ground meat instead of meatballs) Just before serving, stir in gently, the fish sauce, 1 tbsp. cracked black pepper, and 1 tsp. salt or to taste. Your rice should be finished by this time.

Buying ground breast meat instead of ground dark meat will be lower in fat but will result in drier meatballs. I've used seitan, tofu balls and mushrooms in place of meat and they make excellent substitutes.

I prefer serving this meal with a lot of stock-almost as if I'm incorporating the rice as part of the stew. I also spice it up with some Sriracha or Prik Nam Pla sauce. You'll need a deep bowl and spoon regardless. Enjoy!

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