Ampalaya (bitter melon) with Eggs

Posted by JMom | Saturday, September 09, 2006 | , , , | 18 comments »

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This is what I had for brunch today. I would like to introduce, to Weekend Herb Blogging this week, Ampalaya (momordica charantia) or bitter melon. Like it's name says, it is bitter. Bitterness is a taste that is often underappreciated in most cuisines but as my grandmother used to say, with your palate as in life, you can't appreciate the sweetness until you've had a taste of bitterness. It is certainly an acquired taste. It is learned. I used to spit this stuff out as soon as I tasted it. She taught me to learn to like it by first giving a bit of the bitter stuff then telling me to chase it down with some water. Then she would say, "did you notice how the water tastes sweeter?" It did! Pretty soon I learned to like bitter melon and appreciate it's flavor. Now that I'm older, I also appreciate it's nutritional value and medicinal advantages. See the links at the end of this post for more information.

I found a pack of Ampalaya seed early in the spring and I immediately grabbed a pack. I followed the instruction on pre-soaking the seeds before planting them after all danger of frost had passed. I figured it would fare well in our growing region since we do have some hot summers which it supposedly prefers to grow in. I was a bit disappointed when only one plant came up; but I have become delighted with this one plant as it proved itself to be quite prolific. Have a look in our backyard for photos of it's first baby fruit. It's had many more since.

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This is how it looked while it was sauteeing, before the eggs were added. Don't you love the colors?

INGREDIENTS:
1 med/lg bitter melon, sliced thin
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped fine
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 eggs, scrambled
Salt & Pepper, to taste
Oil

Heat about two tablespoons of oil and saute' the garlic and onions until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and bittermelon and continue to cook while constantly stirring until almost dry and the bitter melon is cooked. Season with salt and pepper and add the scrambled egg. Slowly stir until the egg is cooked through. Remove from heat and serve.

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Still need convincing of the benefits of Ampalaya? Visit these links for additional information:
What is Ampalaya?
Links to more information on Ampalaya.com

Thanks to Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen for conceptualizing this event and also hosts it this week. Visit her site for the roundup of all participants this week.



Filipino Cookbooks

18 comments

  1. kalyn // 9/09/2006 10:55 PM  

    I've never had this, but I have heard about it here and there. I've been very curious about it. One thing I had wondered you answered, I wasn't sure if it did really taste bitter or if that was just a name. I'd love to try it sometime.

  2. Toni // 9/10/2006 10:19 PM  

    Hi JMom! Did you pre-soak the ampalaya prior to sauteeing them? Some people do that; I wonder if you do!

  3. Pookah // 9/11/2006 12:06 AM  

    Jmom,
    you must never sleep...work, garden , children, cooking, husband, blog. I was wondering bitter like what? What can you compare it to? I am always game for new food finds.

  4. Karen // 9/11/2006 6:09 AM  

    Oh wow! Didn't realise that people in the west actually cook this! We call it bitter gourd here. I don't know how true this is but my mom said that the bigger the "grooved" surface of the gourd is and the lighter, the less bitter it is. Great stir-fried or boiled with wolfberries and chicken/egg.

  5. rowena // 9/11/2006 6:27 AM  

    Your grandmother was one very wise woman. I haven't had bittermelon in so long...not something so easily found here. So what did I do? Order seeds online for the coming spring. I can't wait to plant these!

  6. dexie // 9/11/2006 5:24 PM  

    YUMMMMMY. I love this.

  7. Mae // 9/11/2006 6:30 PM  

    This is one of my favourite ampalaya dish. I make it just now and again whenever it's available here. I remember ampalaya leaves are also used for cooking... if my memory serves me right, i think it's added in sauteed munggo?

    Delicious!

  8. gattinamia // 9/11/2006 11:05 PM  

    Oh I really love bittermelon (gitter gourd). More bitter more merrier for me! Yours goes with egg definitely super! My dad even made it with fish stock, all the soup super bitter, I just loved it!

  9. charles ravndal // 9/12/2006 3:42 PM  

    ooohhh lovely! My grandma usually squeezed the ampalaya together with some rock salt to take away the bitterness

  10. Manang // 9/13/2006 8:06 AM  

    That is one veggie that I really truly miss! Love it that way, ginisa with egg, crispy, with a bit of bitterness (the less cooked, the less bitter it is, di ba?).

    I should try to grow that indoors. When I tried to plant them last year, they had a transplant shock once I placed them outside. Maybe I should have planted them out in the first place. I will try to grow them indoors this time and see if they will make it.

  11. konjaro // 9/13/2006 7:15 PM  

    Yum! Oh how I miss this!

  12. willszz // 9/13/2006 7:18 PM  

    hmm looks nice, keeping this blog in mind If i would wanna could somting

  13. JMom // 9/15/2006 9:52 AM  

    Thanks, Everyone for leaving comments. I apologize for not leaving replies sooner as I have been swamped at work and am now just barely able to peek at my blogs.


    Hi kalyn, do try it sometime. It's an acquired taste as I mentioned, but my husband said if you've eaten bitter greens like mustards you should have an idea what it tastes like. The tender leaves are also eaten, either in soups or in salads similar to the sweet potato tops.

    Hi Toni, I have heard of people doing that to cut on the bitterness, but no I didn't do it this time and I rarely do it. One, I'm too lazy :-) and two I tend to like the bitterness.

    Hi Pookah, oh thanks for thinking I do all that. To tell you the truth some of that get neglected from me blogging. LOL!! aren't I awful? I do lose sacrifice some sleep for the love of blogging though, you're right. :) Oh, as I mentioned to kalyn, the bitterness is similar to mustard greens, especially late in the season when they have become bitter.

  14. JMom // 9/15/2006 10:12 AM  

    Pookah, if you're game to try this, I've seen them selling it at the State Farmer's Market in Raleigh! :)

    Hi Karen, yes, we do cook it here now. I think with the influx of Asian immigrants, we're introducing a lot of exotic vegetables in the area. Isn't it great how everything is getting global? My grandmother has mentioned that too, that the smoother the melon, the less bitter it is. I hadn't been observant enough to notice a difference though.

    Hi Rowena, that's what I did too! I have been able to find bitter melon and other Asian veggies in the markets, but they are so expensive so I decided to plant them myself! Now if only it were that easy with fruits....like mangoes. yumm! I'd have an orchard in my backyard :)

    Hi Dexie! You know my grandmother also used to say something about bitter melon and lactating women. I have to double check whether she said it was good for you or bad for you though. How's it going in babydom? :)

  15. JMom // 9/15/2006 10:31 AM  

    Hi Mae, that's right. My lone plant has finally gotten bushy enough that I think I will be trying out the munggo and ampalaya recipe soon too. I have to confess that I have never tried cooking that dish myself. I always depended on my lola or dad to do it. They do it so well :)

    Hi Gattina, me too, I just love the bitterness of it! That soup with bitter gourd sounds delicious. Do you think you'll post a recipe about it one day? I'd love to try it.

    Hi Chas, I've heard that too, but like I told Toni previously, I'm too lazy to do it and I like the bitterness anyway :-) Maybe I should try doing that though, just so the girls would be encouraged to try it. Great idea! I think I will do it!

    Hi manang, yes, I found that if you don't overcook it it is less bitter. I too almost had a disappointing season with bitter melon. Out of the whole pack of seeds that I planted, only one came up. Now, after it's had some heat it seems to be growing like mad. I was just thinking, if all the seeds had germinated, my whole bed would have been full of ampalaya!

    Hi konjaro, is this hard to find in your area too?

    Hi wilzz, thanks for visiting :)

  16. gattina // 9/15/2006 11:53 AM  

    Sure I'll love to show you the look of this soup (and recipe)... but please be patient as the store in my area doesn't always carry very fresh veg and fish. Once I get all the ingredients and will make it :D

  17. thess // 9/17/2006 7:36 AM  

    Hello Jmom, long time no 'c' :-)

    oh wow! amplaya cooked this way is my favorite..almusal, tanghalian, mirienda at hapunan, pwedeng pwede!

    pag naman gusto ko ng may konting sabaw, i just add stock and sotanghon...thanks for reminding me to find ampalaya the coming week.

    TC J!

  18. JMom // 9/19/2006 9:22 AM  

    Hi Gattina, I'll be looking forward to it! Thanks.

    Hi Thess, how's the renovation going? I hope it's finished soon so you can get back in your kitchen :-) Oh, I do that too, with the sabaw. Sometimes I also cook ampalaya with sardinas na masabaw.

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