Funny how many wives’ tales there are on how to rid ampalaya of its natural bitterness during cooking. One friend told me, “the cook should be smiling and singing while cooking the ampalaya” and another friend said, “the cook has to be a virgin”. Well, since I am not of pleasant dispostion and have not been pure in thoughts or actions for at least two decades, am I doomed for acrid ampalaya? No, siree, as I have a few tricks in my bag on how to conquer bittermelon!
- Use the youngest and greenest gourds you can find because as the vegetable matures and yellows, the bitter taste intensifies.
- Make sure to scrape off all the white pith inside and slice the green flesh as thinly as possible.
- Keep stirring to a minimum and do not overcook.
By following these tips, your next ginisang ampalaya at hipon will be more palatable without the customary salting. This vegetable is a powerhouse of nutrients, why deplete it of its beneficial juices?
- 4 medium ampalaya
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 small onion, peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 2 medium Roma tomatoes, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- ½ pound medium shrimp, peeled and minced
- 1 cup water
- 2 eggs, beaten
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cut ampalaya lengthwise and with a spoon, remove seeds and scrape off white pith. Sliced thinly and place in a bowl of cold water until needed. Drain well when ready to use.
- In a wide skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring regularly, until tender and aromatic. Add tomatoes and cook, regularly mashing with back of spoon, until softened.
- Add fish sauce and cook for about 1 minute. Add shrimp and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until shrimp starts to change color.
- Add water and bring to a boil. Add ampalaya and gently toss to combine. Cook for about 2 to 3 minutes or until tender yet crisp.
- In a thin stream, add eggs and gently stir to distribute. Continue to cook for about 1 minute or until eggs have set. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.