Below 30 years of age, I would have gone hungry or at least skipped a meal rather than eat ampalaya voluntarily. I have traumatic memories of staring at a dish of thinly sliced (like that would make the stuff less bitter!) half circles of ampalaya sauteed with ground meat and lots of eggs at the center of our lunch table and thinkingâ€¦ WHERE IS THE BLOODY KETCHUP??? Sorry, but this was torture on a platter. Bring on the whips, thank you. Blindfold me and place a large ampalaya in my hands and witness near instantaneous apoplectic seizures! Above 30, my reactions have changed little, though I now eat ampalaya as part of a good pinakbet – so this post is a stretch for Marketman, a true labor of love for readers who are not allergic to the knobbly, bitter and wicked ampalayaâ€¦
Ampalaya or Bitter Gourd (Momordica charantia), thrives in the tropics throughout the world. Accoding to Alan Davidson, it is believed to have originated in India but yet it thrives in Africa, South America, China and Southeast Asia. Said to have an addictive quality in the same manner as chilli, the bitter and intense taste takes some getting used to. Having said that, hundreds of millions of folks around the world love this vegetable. There are several types of ampalaya but the two most common ones in the Philippines are the â€œChineseâ€ variety which tend to get rather big, have a light to darker green complexion and large â€œveinsâ€ or knobs on them. And the â€œIndianâ€ version tends to have finer bumps and a greener skin. They look like large versions of these mini ampalayas pictured here.
Something so intense tasting does apparently have tremendous mineral and health benefitsâ€¦no pain, no gain I suppose. Ampalaya is one of those vegetables that the market will ALWAYS have as it seems to thrive throughout the year and in abundance. If you were a bug would YOU sink your teeth into a large ugly bitter fruit??? There are all kinds of suggestions for â€œde-bitteringâ€ ampalaya like soaking it in water, rubbing it with salt, soaking in salt water, parboiling it before sautÃ©ing, etc. but it seems that none of these really markedly reduce the bitter taste. Like chilli, you just gotta learn to love it and when you do, you canâ€™t do without it. Thanks, but I think I still fall into the â€œIâ€™d rather take a vitamin pillâ€ category! If any readers have a terrific recipe for sauteed ampalaya with beef/pork and eggs I would be interested as I will make one last attempt to get to know this vegetable amicably…