Monthly Archives: September 2012

Bitter Melon (Gourd) – 2 ways

Last weekend I re-acquainted with my least favourite childhood vegetable – bitter melon.  I was shopping at Harris Farm Market looking for green chilli and there it was….calling my name. I thought why not give bitter melon another chance. Plus I reckon it would make an interesting blog post especially for those who are curious about this.

I find bitter melons a little hit and miss. Sometimes I got the really bitter ones that reminded me what I dislike it in the first place and sometimes the bitterness is so subtle that it is negligible.  Applying the similar method to reduce bitterness in eggplant, you can add salt to the bitter melon slices, wait for 10 minutes or so and squeeze the juice out. Just so you know that even with squeezing out the juices, the bitterness won’t be eliminated completely. (My mum has recommended that to get less bitter ones, pick the ones that have bigger bumps i.e. the width of bumps is bigger.)

Below are the two ways on how I cooked my bitter melon. I bought a small one, weighing about 200g / 7 ounces. I halved it and cooked 2 dishes with each half.  If you are not too sure whether you will like this, a small bitter melon will go a long way. Trust me. :)

Bitter Melon Omelette – based on my childhood memory

(Feed about 2 people as a side dish with rice)

What you’ll need:-

  • Cooking oil
  • 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
  • 100g/ 3.5 ounces bitter melon, thinly sliced – see Note 1
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • salt to taste ( I added about 1/2 tsp)
  • White pepper

Note 1: For this dish, I did not salt the bitter melon prior cooking. If you are concern with the bitterness, mix the bitter melon slices with 1 tsp of salt and let it sit for 10 minutes. Then squeeze the juices out before making the omelette. You may want to reduce the salt in the omelette if you salt the bitter melon.

(1) Thinly sliced onion and bitter melon. Salt the bitter melon should you wish to. (2) In a medium sized non-sticked pan over medium heat, heat a tbsp of cooking oil and wait until the oil is hot. Add sliced onions and bitter melon (if you salt the bitter melon slices, you should squeeze the juices out before adding with the onion) and saute until the onion is translucent and bitter melon slices are soften.  While waiting for the onion and bitter melon to cook, beat egg with salt to taste and white pepper. (3) Add beaten egg and cook over low heat.  (4)When the omelette looks like 70% cooked, flip the omelette to cook the other side. You don’t have to flip the whole omelette at a time. What I’ve done was to flip it in 3 sections. Serve immediately with rice and other side dishes.

Spiced Bitter Melon

(A really small side dish – makes about 1/2 cup)

What you’ll need:-

  • Cooking oil
  • 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
  • 100g/ 3.5 ounces bitter melon, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • A pinch of chilli powder
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Chopped fresh coriander leaves as garnish

(1) Add sliced bitter melon, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp turmeric into a bowl. Let it sit for 10 minutes and then squeeze the juices out. Set aside. (2) Thinly slice onion. (3) Add oil and onion into a small non-stick pan and saute over medium flame until golden brown. (4) Add 1 tsp of ground cumin and a pinch chilli to the onion. If the mixture is a little dry, add a little bit more oil. Saute until aromatic over low heat. (5) Add bitter melon and mix well with the onion mixture. Cook with a lid on over low heat for 10 – 15 minutes. (6) Check for taste if more salt is necessary. Then add sugar and saute until the mixture does not feel grainy. Serve immediately with some chopped fresh coriander leaves as garnish.

 

Effortless Caprese Tarts

Spontaneity can be an attractive trait. Or not. Well it depends on the circumstances, I suppose.

Sponteneous baking a batch of cookies, good.

Sponteneous turning up to a friend’s house at almost dinner time, not so good (maybe borderline rude).

Major big disclaimer – It was not our intention to stay for dinner after rocking up to a friend’s house during dinner time. However, he was making pizzas using puff pastry as pizza base and leftover curry as toppings (minus the gravy, obviously). We were like “gtg” (got to go) but he insisted us to stay for dinner. Speaking of being  a hospitable host eh? Anyway, that dinner was the reason why I was craving for puff pastry. Plus I have some leftover frozen puff pastry from the last time I made the bite-sized quiches.

Since I’ve featured caprese salad on my blog, I thought I’d change it up a bit with a tart version and put my leftover puff pastry into good use. It sounds like a good plan right? ;)

Effortless Caprese Tart

Serves 2 people as a light meal (or 4 portions as a starter)

What you’ll need:-

Note 1 – measurement is 24 cm (9.5 inches) x 24 cm (9.5 inches)

Note 2 – In hindsight I should have eaten the marinated mozzarella straight with salad (like what I did here) as it is pretty tasty on its own. I felt that I could get away with the normal mozzarella (less expensive) for this tart.

(1) Preheat oven to 200 degrees C / 356 degrees F – see Note 3. Slice the sheet into half  and then form 1cm/ 0.4 inches edge by folding inward. (2) Remove the seeds of a tomato and dice into small pieces. (3) Since I’ve used a marinated mozzarella ball, I removed it from the oil and pat dry with a paper towel. (4) Tear the mozzarella ball with your fingers and distributed between the 2 tart shells. Then sprinkle with the diced tomato. Bake for 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and the puff pastry is golden brown – see Note 4. Serve immediate with freshly grind black pepper, sliced basil and a small drizzle of olive oil to finish. (Shhh….Tobasco sauce is a fiery addition too!)

See note 3 – if you use a fan forced oven, reduce the temperature by 20 degrees C/68 degrees F.

See note 4 – Do not freak out when you see a tiny pool of liquid (oozed from the tomato) filled the tart shell. Stop peeking through the oven window and walk away. Only check the tart when the time is up as you will be delighted to see the cheese is bubbling and tomato is slightly charred….and where’s the pool of liquid, you say? ;)