1 small bitter melon
3 Tbsp peanut oil
1 clove garlic, sliced
1/2 lb flank steak, sliced thin
2 Tbsp black bean sauce (use the Asian sauce made from fermented black beans, not the Mexican variety)
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tsp cornstarch dissolved in 1/3 cup water
Cut the bitter melon in half lengthwise, and scrape out the pits. Mix 1 Tbsp salt with 4 cups of water in a large bowl, and soak the melon (or cucumber) for 5 minutes. Drain, rinse, then sprinkle 1/4 tsp salt directly on the cut side. Place in a pot of boiling water and boil for 5 minutes. Drain, then cut into julienne strips. Heat a wok, and add 1-1/2 Tbsp peanut oil. Add the melon, toss, and add 1/2 cup water. Cook 8-10 minutes, until the melon is tender. Drain and place on a serving plate. Add 1-1/2 Tbsp oil to the wok, and stir fry the garlic for 15 seconds. Add the beef, and continue to stir. Add black bean sauce and sugar, and stir 1-2 minutes more. Pour in the cornstarch solution, and stir until thickened slightly. Place the meat on top of the bitter melon, and serve hot with steamed rice.