Bitter Gourd In Mashed Tofu and Tomatoes

>> March 1, 2012

My husband asked me a few days ago if I knew any vegan recipe using bitter gourd. It wasn't really his favorite but he'd like to share the recipe in reddit because there's a post asking about it.

When I was young, the only use of bitter gourd to me was just for art work. I slice the bottom, dip the tip in water color, and make nice prints on white paper. But as I get older, I developed a relationship with vegetables I would never eat in my childhood. One of which is the bitter gourd or amplaya in Tagalog. It wouldn't be named bitter if it wasn't for its reputation, I suppose. I tell you it's  bitter as hell and I don't think I know any child who likes it, not even much of adults. But I guess you just have to prepare and cook it right to be likeable.

The secret to bitter gourd is to rub it with salt, let it sit for a while, and then rinse. Some people soak it in salt water, but rubbing works for me. This makes the bitterness milder. I love bitter gourd with eggs and tomatoes, but since Mark's requested vegan, I experimented today with mashed tofu. Here it goes.

- firm tofu, halved
- 2 pcs ripe tomatoes, sliced
- 1 small white onion, chopped
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 medium sized bitter gourd
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tsp. white sugar (optional)

1. Cut the bitter gourd in 3 parts, and then lengthwise. Remove the white middle flesh by scraping it with a spoon.
2. Rub it with a good amount of salt and set aside for 15 minutes. This will make the bitter taste milder.
3. Divide the firm tofu in to two. Mash half of it with your hand, but not too much because it's nice when it's a bit chunky. Refrigerate the other half.
4. Rinse the bitter gourd and slice it cross-wise, making like little Cs, but not too thick.
5. Heat oil in a frying pan. Sautee onions until it's soft. Add in the garlic. Sautee til it's golden brown.
6. Toss in the mashed tofu and fry it for about 3 minutes.
7. Toss in the bitter gourd. Mix it altogether until the bitter gourd is soft and cooked. I personally like it al dente.
8. Add tomatoes and continue cooking. I added the tomatoes last because I like it half cooked and still juicy. But you may add tomatoes before the bitter gourd.
9. Add a tablespoon of soy sauce for flavor. Add some salt and pepper according to your taste.
10. Add about a teaspoon of white sugar, but this is perfectly optional. I just like a bitter-sweet twist.

Makes 2 servings. Best served with steamed white rice.


notsquare March 1, 2012 at 10:27 PM  

Hubby and I enjoy eating ampalaya :) so much so that we dont even rub it with salt nor soak it in water ;)

but of course we do eat it with ground beef and scrambled egg :)

i will try to dd tofu and tomatoes next time!

happy to see "other people" eat ampalaya too :D

bea hernandez / beabear

tika hapsari nilmada March 7, 2012 at 4:16 AM  

In Indonesia we call it Paria or pare. I didn't know you like it. I know how bitter the bitter gourd is, so I won't eat it.
But it looks delish and I believe it's healthy too.
Did Mark love it ?

Marvie Yap March 7, 2012 at 9:51 AM  

Surprisingly he did! Bitter gourd is an acquired taste, I don't really know anyone who likes it the first time. My mom would cook this and I would cry and pinch my nose so I could swallow this when I was younger :P.

Marvie Yap March 7, 2012 at 9:53 AM  

Hi Bea! I'm crazy about it too - but not the raw preparation, sort of pickled. Maybe I will try, but I can't promise myself I will like it haha. Cooking it and tossing it with other veggies kinda conceals the bitterness and partly kills it. I wonder when its pickled?

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I work and live at night time. I am a person deprived of natural light. I rarely cook in the morning as I'm almost always asleep, else busy with house chores. As much as I love natural light in my photography, I'm afraid I don't usually have that luxury, unless I sacrifice my sleep, or make an effort to stay up longer during the day to do a cooking + photo session. So I depend on my flash, and sometimes, available light from my fluorescent bulbs. Although, in my opinion, nothing beats the natural light, I am, so far, satisfied with my shots using my flash that I learned to love.

I always look forward to the weekends for some sunlight.

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