Bitter Melon with Tofu and Fermented Black Beans

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We were lucky enough to have pleasant weather for the first couple weeks of October, but things got downright chilly last week. Dad started cleaning up the garden and collected the last of the veggies. Bitter melon, or ampalaya, was included in the mix, and Mom cooked it up, vegan-style!

We have blogged about bitter melon before, and here’s another recipe for the adventurous among us. My mom usually makes this dish using steak or roast beef, but decided to substitute tofu instead. Yay! The tofu helped to offset some of the bitterness and the fermented black beans bring both a sweetness and saltiness to the dish.

Ampalaya (Bitter Melon) with Tofu and Fermented Black Beans

1 bitter melon
1 block tofu, pressed and cut into bite-sized cubes
1/2 cup fermented black beans (you can find these at Asian markets)
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt or soy sauce, to taste

1. Slice the bitter melon in half, lengthwise, and scoop out the innards. Then, slice the halves into about 1/4 inch pieces.

2. Heat up a pan and add your favorite vegetable oil (I like safflower or canola).

3. Throw in the onion and garlic and cook until they’re fragrant and the onion is translucent.

4. Toss in the bitter melon, lower heat, and cover. Let it cook for 2-3 minutes, checking to make sure that the bitter melon doesn’t stick.

5. Add the tofu and beans to the pot. Gently mix everything together. Allow it to cook, covered, for another 5 minutes or so.

6. Add some salt or soy sauce to taste and remove from heat.

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This dish is best served with jasmine rice or brown rice.

Yay, weird veggies! –Melissa

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4 thoughts on “Bitter Melon with Tofu and Fermented Black Beans

  1. Kinenchen says:

    I think we have bitter melon in our yard at our new rental. Hmmm….

  2. This is shaping out to be a year of me trying new things (food and otherwise), so I gotta try these! What do they taste like? Texture?

    • Melissa says:

      They tend to stay crunchy, no matter how much you took them. They definitely have a bitter taste — if I eat them raw, I soak them in cold water and salt for a bit. The outside is usually smooth and can seem waxy, but it’s not. I’ll be honest… some people might say they taste like feet. Let us know if you try it!

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