(Stewed Bitter Gourd)
Hurray to my ever favorite vegetable which is everybody else’s most-hated item in my household!! Ampalaya is my celebration of uniqueness and individuality in my Saudi Arabian home. Nobody likes it, everybody hates it; so, I can have it all for myself! Yaahoooooo!!
My hubby and kiddoes tried them once and decided that it was their first hello and final goodbye to it. I felt I should remember that day for the rest of my life and owe it to them that they even tried it. Ah!
Ampalaya, bitter gourd, or bitter melon abundantly grows in the Philippines, the southeast Asia and the amazon. As the name suggests, it is bitter in taste and probably the most bitter of all vegetables. However, it has medicinal properties and health benefits. It has recently gained popularity in social media as remedy for diabetes and for weight loss. I personally do not see ampalaya for that reason because I just love it! I just love it for no reason. Unconditional love, you can tell.
Back home in the Philippines, we also eat ampalaya in its raw form. With vinegar and bagoong (shrimp paste) as accompaniment to fried or grilled fish. We make them into salads by mixing them with tomatoes, onions and spices. I remember my dad extracting the juice from ampalaya leaves and giving it to us to treat coughs and colds. My sister became my dad’s nemesis because of it, ha-ha! She was about 5 years old then.
There are a few ways to treat ampalaya to rid of its bitter taste. One is to pour hot water over them after cutting them for cooking, drain and cook as in the recipe. Another way is to soak them in salted water for about 15 minutes (also after cutting them up for cooking). To completely remove that bitter taste, treat them further by squishing them with your hands while in salted water and wash them off (in this case, I would stew zucchinis instead 😊)
I heard from folks, while growing up, that if you stir ampalaya often while cooking, the bitter taste will be gone. In my experience, it is not always the case. I also heard that if you do not cover the pan while the dish simmers, the bitter taste would also be gone. While there seems to be some logical explanation to this, it not true at all! Anyway, ampalaya is a matter of taste! Yes it is!
My suggestion is to try this recipe once! I know, I just know, that you would not regret it. I am actually confident that you would enjoy it.
- 2 medium sized ampalaya (about 1/5 k)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium sized onions, diced finely
- 1 small tomato, seeded and chopped
- salt to taste
- ¼ tbsp ground black pepper
- 2 eggs
- ¼ cup water
- 4 tbsp cooking oil
- 4 tbsp patis
- Cut ampalaya to half, remove the seeds and soak in salted water for a few minutes (the longer you soak, the less bitterness will remain). Drain in a colander.
- Sautee garlic, onions and tomatoes, 1 minute in between.
- Add eggs and stir while breaking the eggs into pieces.
- Add ampalaya, salt, pepper, water and patis. Stir lightly.
- Cook depending on the done-ness you prefer.