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.
The 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.
- Cut the bitter melon into thin slices
- I 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)
- On a non-stick pan, add a small amount of butter. I add enough to coat the pan when the butter melts.
- 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.
- On 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.
- It should take about 15 to 20 minutes to become crisp.
-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.