Bitter melon or ampalaya is one of those weird ones, you guys, but I grew up eating it.
Bitter melon is not my favorite thing to eat. In fact, it’s because of its health benefits that I endure its bitter flavor: they don’t call it “bitter” because of its jealousy and resentment. Some of its heath benefits include: lowering insulin (which benefits those with diabetes) and killing bacteria and viruses. It also helps keep the blood clean and improves blood flow which means, for a woman, less painful menstrual cramps. BONUS: My dad grows it in the garden. He’s growing two kinds this year: the darker one that I used in this recipe, and a lighter and longer one shown below.
Christie posted a recipe for pakbet using bitter melon. Today, I’m opting for a simple and raw recipe. I made this when I was visiting Christie and Brent over the weekend. Brent unfortunately could not try it because of an allergy, but I am happy to say that this is Christie-approved!
Bitter Melon Salad
1 bitter melon
1/2 onion, diced
1 medium tomato, diced
First, slice the bitter melon in half, lengthwise. Then, degut it. I used a teaspoon to scoop out the guts.
Slice up the melon, toss it into a bowl, and add 2-3 tbsp of salt. Then add cold water to the bowl and let it soak for about 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, drain and rinse the bitter melon. Toss it into another bowl with the tomato and onion, add salt to taste (I suggest at least a teaspoon), mix it up, and eat it!
I spotted some strawberries in the fridge while the bitter melon was soaking and came up with a wacky idea: bitter melon salad with strawberry and onion!
OMG what a wonderful combination and no salt required! It has this great sweet explosion followed by bitter followed by sweet and the onion ties it all together. YUM YUM YUM.
Don’t be afraid of bitter melon! It has awesome health benefits. Visit the National Bitter Melon Council to learn more. I expect that both Christie and I will offer up more bitter melon recipes. I know I have a lot more to say about the magical ampalaya. In the meantime, be on the lookout and try it if you find it. –Melissa