Ampalaya (Bitter Gourd)
Ampalaya is also called bitter gourd and bitter melon. It is appropriately named; it is rather bitter. It is believed to be the most bitter amongst vegetables. But the good news is that it is a superfood.
It is a fruit of a vine. The vine can grow up to 5 feet tall. It supports itself by way of having beautiful green tendrils that spiralled themselves to whichever they can touch and cling to such as stakes or other vegetable plants.
Ampalaya leaves (young sprouts) are equally bitter but it can be blanched and then drained by squeezing all the liquids from it. It can then be served with chopped tomatoes and shallots with a dash of patis (fish sauce) or bagoong (a Filipino specialty – fermented fish). This is actually delicious eaten with freshly boiled rice. I miss this.
Apparently it has been proven that ampalaya has some medicinal properties. It increases production of beta cells in the pancreas, therefore, it improves the body’s production of insulin, which control the blood sugar and this is good news for diabetics. Ampalaya is an excellent source of Vitamin B, iron, calcium, and phosphorus. It is also rich in beta carotene. Try to add ampalaya into your diet.
Admittedly, it can be really bitter during the first taste but the taste buds quickly get used to it and can be rather delicious.
Watch this space for more ampalaya recipes.