Bitter melon love

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By Tenzin Kheshong

Bitter melon is a hard vegetable to sell to someone who hasn’t eaten it before. It’s not one of those vegetables that people easily fall in love with. It’s an acquired taste, I tell my husband. Unfortunately he doesn’t buy (or bite, rather) that theory. It doesn’t help that the melon looks as it does. Nonetheless, I have tried to cook it more often at home so that he slowly gets used to its taste and we lead a somewhat healthier life.

20151023_154347The first time a non bitter melon-eater tastes it, they will probably swear it is their last time too. I don’t blame them. I felt that way too when I first started eating it. Even now, I can’t eat it any other way but fried. The crispiness takes away a bit of the bitter taste in the mouth. But I didn’t like that fact that it was soaked in oil. Frying it sort of defeats the purpose of this very healthy vegetable.

I knew bitter melon was good for diabetes. But a simple search on the web shows that this vegetable is great for treating many other ailments – from cancer to digestion. This website has more details of the health benefits of bitter melon.

Last spring my aunt visited my sister and me and she brought with her, a new, healthier bitter melon recipe! Ever since then, I’ve changed the way I cook this vegetable. Just a little salt and butter is all it takes. Here’s the recipe.

Ingredients:

-Bitter melon

-Salt

-Butter

Method:

  1. Cut the bitter melon into thin slices
  2. 20151023_154247I add the salt at this stage and let it rest for at least an hour (so that I can squeeze out a bit of the juice and the bitterness later)
  3. 20151023_155124On a non-stick pan, add a small amount of butter. I add enough to coat the pan when the butter melts.
  4. If you are okay with all the bitterness of the vegetable, you can add it to the pan at this stage. But I squeeze out the juice a little (it’s more palatable for my husband) and then add it to the pan.
  5. 20150329_140952On medium flame, let the bitter melon cook. Spread it across the pan so that it cooks evenly. Stir it as a few times to cook both the sides of the bitter melon.
  6. 20150528_111018It should take about 15 to 20 minutes to become crisp.
  7. IMG_2529Notes:

-To me, this recipe tastes best eaten immediately because it is still crisp.

-I always make this a side dish. The taste can be overpowering even for me, so I blend the strong flavor of this vegetable with a main course.

-If you are trying bitter melon for the first time, I suggest you don’t buy too many. Maybe two is enough just to get a taste of the vegetable. But I assure you, as you eat it more often, you will soon start enjoying the bitterness.

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