Posted by: gargupie | December 20, 2009

Bitter Melon

Sweet. Sour. Bitter. Salty. And yes, another recently popular taste term – umami. Which is your most prefer “taste“? I’m a bit of a rebel because I prefer ‘bitter’ taste. But no, I don’t enjoy taking medicine (flashback of me spitting out syrupy, sweet/bitter cold medicine), yet when it comes to food, I would much rather pick a dish with a bitter flavor than a sweet one; hence, don’t count me in for a dessert session.

One of my favorite bitter dish is made with of course, bitter melon, also known as goya (Japan) or karella (India). Different regional bitter melons also have varied appearance as well. For example, the Chinese ones have a smoother outer touch than the Indian ones that are like volcanic eruption, but the latter taste crisper than the former kinds.

The bitterness from a bitter melon helps to beat the heat, which is why the Okinawans have a popular dish called goya chanpuru that’s a stir fry of sliced goya, tofu, and pork. Since I’m a vegetarian, I omit the meat and just add in other greens, such as scallions or extra chopped Chinese cabbages. Travelling in Beijing, China, I also discovered some locals who served bitter melon as a cold appetizer, which is quite refreshing during the summer season. Just blanch some sliced bitter melon and then drizzle sesame seed oil on top as a dressing. Light and healthy.

Although we’re entering into winter, I still crave for some ‘bitterness’ when I need to rejuvenate my digestive system because I always feel refreshed when I eat my greens no matter what the temperature is outside.
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