The title of my today’s post is borrowed from Joel Osteen, the famous Pastor from Lakewood Church Texas who often says “don’t get bitter, get better” .
But this post has nothing to do with Joel Osteen or his book. I still focus on cooking……..
Today my post is about Momordica charantia or bitter melon, bitter gourd or bitter squash in English, Pavakai in Tamil, Karela in Urdu and Pare in Indonesian. It is a tropical and subtropical vine of the family Cucurbitaceae, widely grown in Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean for its edible fruit, which is among the most bitter of all fruits. Its many varieties differ substantially in the shape and bitterness of the fruit.
Bitter gourd is generally consumed cooked in the green or early yellowing stage. The young shoots and leaves of the bitter gourd may also be eaten as greens. It is often used in Chinese cooking for its bitter flavor, typically in stir fries (often with pork and douchi), soups, and also as tea. It has also been used in place of hops as the bittering ingredient in some Chinese beers.
In Vietnam, raw bitter gourd slices consumed with dried meat floss and bitter gourd soup with shrimp are popular dishes. Bitter gourd stuffed with ground pork are served as a popular summer soup in the south. It is also used as the main ingredient of “stewed bitter gourd”. This dish is usually cooked for the Tet holiday, where its “bitter” name is taken as a reminder of the poor living conditions experienced in the past.
In my country, we call bitter gourd ‘Pare’ or ‘Paria’ and is prepared in various dishes, such as gado-gado, and also stir fried, cooked in coconut milk, or simply steamed and eaten with ‘sambal’
This morning, I was inspired to cook bitter gourd and started experimenting to turn the ‘Bitter Gourd’ into ‘Better Gourd’ .
- First I cut the bitter gourd into 2 parts and cut each part half lengthwise.
- Take out the seeds and cooked them in water plus salt.
Prepare spice ingredients as follows:
- 1 onion, sliced
- 3 garlic, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons of cooking oil
- a few cuts of pork fat (optional)
- 5 pieces of dried salted squid – thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons of Thai spicy crispy shrimp (I bought this in Bangkok)
- When the bitter gourds are cooked and softened, take out from the water, set aside for a few minutes to cool down
- slice the cooked bitter gourds into small pieces
How to cook:
- put the wok on medium heat
- pour in the cooking oil and pork fat, stir fry until the pork fat becomes yellow-brown
- add in the sliced onion and garlic, continue to stir fry until golden
- add in all the spice ingredients (the sliced salted squid and spicy crispy shrimp) and continue to stir fry for a few minutes
- add in the sliced bitter gourds and stir until mix well with the other ingredients
- continue to stir fry for a few minutes then remove the Stir Fried Bitter Gourd from heat
- serve warm with rice
Voila……….from Bitter to Better Gourd…..so yummy