Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Bitter & Hot!

If you remember, I love eggplant, that a lot of people hate. Likewise, I love bitter melon or bitter gourd, that well, most people again, hate! As the name suggests, this vegetable is bitter. Apparently this bitter veggie is very beneficial in the prevention of diabetes and weight management...........well, at least that is what I remember being told while growing up and of course, I can't say if this is indeed true. All I know is that I love this vegetable and I cook it exclusively for myself (the other 3 in my family loathe it!).

The Indian bitter gourd is small, about 4-6 inches long and with a more "spiny" look. Also a darker green. And I have found that it is way more bitter than the Chinese kind. The Chinese bitter melon is a lighter shade of green and a little bit longer and smoother outside. Now a days I just get the Chinese bitter melon because it involves mush lesser prep time and cooking time compared to the Indian variety. And my favorite recipe involves jalapenos. Mmm, just imagine--- you have bitter and you have hot--- a complete dynamite!!

I ate this preparation at this local Chinese restaurant, Sichuanese, a few years ago. The menu card said, "Bitter Melon and Harapeno" followed by the little chilli sign on the side indicating that it was a hot and spicy item. I realized soon enough that the "harapeno" was in fact jalapeno. I quite liked it. And now I just make it at home myself--- it is that simple.

Look at the lovely green bitter melon and the equally lovely jalapenos!


Bitter Melon, Jalapenos, Salt, Black Beans (special stuff available at any Asian store) OR Soy sauce.

What I do:
  1. I julienne the bitter melon. Likewise I cut the jalapenos into thin strips too. (The ratio of bitter melon to jalapenos really depends on how much heat you want.......)
  2. I take a pan, put in a couple teaspoons of oil and once the oil is hot enough, I throw in the cut bitter melon and jalapenos, followed by salt to taste. Stir fry it. Takes about 5 minutes. 
  3. I then add a little bit of the black beans into the stir-fry and give it all one more quick stir. Done! If I am out of the black beans, I just add a teaspoon of soy sauce for flavor. 

Cut into strips

The black beans from Uwajimaya

Ready to eat!

Yep, that is it. Can't get any easier than that!! It goes well with simple fried rice or even with flatbread (roti). I love the combination of the bitter melon with the hot jalapenos. I think it is quite sexy.

The only other person who liked this preparation: My brother (Thanks!).
Sichuanese Menu Card: Still says "Bitter Melon and Harapeno."

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