Do you know what a bitter melon is? Sometimes it's called bitter gourd. It's called different names in different regions but here in the Philippines, we call it ampalaya.
Yes, it's bitter and lots of people hate it. I'm not one of them. I love, love, LOVE this bitter fruit! Mostly because it's got loads and loads of good stuff in it. Partly because I know how to perfectly cook it and get rid of the bitterness. Ah-huh, bet my neck on that!
I can make ampalaya dishes without a hint of bitterness in the cooked dish. Oh, wait, I said that already. Time to spill my secret.
The trick is super simple. DO NOT MIX. That's right. Once the ampalaya slices are in the pan, leave it there, but be sure they're evenly distributed to get equal heat from the pan, though. Then, just very simply, leave it there to cook on the sides. Resist the urge to stir. Something with the stirring in the heat releases the bitter ampalaya taste. And to make sure they don't scorch, leave it in low-medium heat. After a minute, briefly flip the whole thing to get the other side a chance to cook. There, ridiculously simple. I hope restaurants learn to cook ampalaya this way so we don't have to eat bitter ampalayas anymore.
Here's a pic of an ampalaya dish I did awhile back. I like this vegetable best when cooked like this, and when pickled.
Here's the recipe (in case you're interested):
- 2 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 onion, sliced
- 2 medium sized ampalaya, sliced (how thinly is up to you)
- 1/4 cup meat broth, or as substitute: 1 pork cube, dissolved in 1/4 cup hot water
- 3 medium eggs, slightly beaten
After about a minute, add broth. Give it another minute then pour over the slightly beaten egg. All this time, keep your heat in low-medium. Wait until the egg has set slightly, then flip over the vegetables to properly cook the other side.
I love this on breakfasts.
image from http://en.wikipedia.org/
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