also known as the balsam pear or bitter gourd ("ku gua" in Chinese where "ku" is bitter and "gua" melon) is a long fruit resembling a cucumber with bumpy skin. It is quite popular in Chinese cooking where the fruit is often braised, stir fried or steamed and is added to a dish consisting of pork, onions, ginger, and black bean sauce. The bitter melon is also a frequent ingredient in Chinese soups. The young fruit has green, shiny skin and silvery-green flesh with a delicate, slightly sour flavor. The skin becomes yellow or orange as it ripens, and its taste becomes bitter, which is when it is most often used. Bitter melon comes in cans and is more likely to be found in emporia specializing in Chinese goods than in other stores and shops . However, in the month of April through September, it can be found fresh in most Asian markets. When purchasing, choose fruit firm to the touch with a nice green color. If you prefer the less bitter variety, look for dark green ones. Fresh bitter melon can be kept in the refrigerator for a week or two.