Ampalaya or bitter melon or bitter gourd is one of the vegetables you can find in the market all year round in the Philippines. It is probably the most hated of vegetables by kids as it really is bitter. I didn’t learn to eat ampalaya dish till I was in my 20s, and when I did, I found that the bitter taste kinda grows on you. Now I can eat ampalaya anytime, anyway is it cooked. How did I learn how to eat it? I cooked and ate ampalaya for almost a week and had it for breakfast, lunch and dinner till finally my taste buds came to appreciate it. I had it stirfried with eggs, or with beef strips marinated in calamansi, or with black beans. I also like it cooked with coconut milk.
Ampalaya is also a medicinal plant, with the belief that it can lower blood sugar levels. The leaves are boiled and the decoction is cooled down. My dad, who is a diabetic, drinks a glass of this decoction once a day. It is bitter though so it takes some to appreaciate the juice. In Chinatown, you can buy dried ampalaya slices which can also be used to make teas.
My dad does not like the ampalaya juice but he does like sautéed ampalaya. So I’m sharing his recipe for Weekend Herb Blogging this week, hosted by Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook. Oh, and by the way, I get the chance to host this lovely event in May!
Ampalaya with beef and black beans
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, choppped
100 grams beef strips, thinly sliced
2-3 tbsp salted black beans
1 piece ampalaya, sliced thinly
pepper to taste
Cut ampalaya lengthwise. Remove seeds and pulp then slice thinly crosswise. Saute garlic and onions in 1-2 tbsp oil. Add the 1 tbsp soy sauce then the beef strips, stirring until they are no longer pink. Add the ampalaya, then stir to mix all ingredients evenly. Add 1/4 cup of water and let it boil till almost reduced. Add black beans, a tbsp at a time and check for saltiness. Mix well. Add pepper to taste.
To market, to market is a blogging event I am hosting to celebrate farmers’ markets everywhere. Hope to see you there, too. – Gay