Monday, October 29, 2012



This is probably the most famous dish that utilizes the Ampalaya or Bitter Melon (gourd), it you can't find the gourd, or just can't take bitter foods, are pregnant or allergic, then, by all means, substitute zucchini, or any other soft squash that you like.  As you can imagine there are many, many version of this dish; this one come from The Philippine Cookbook by my favorite Filipino food writer Reynaldo Alejandro.  This is cooked a great deal like a classic stir0fry.  This can be make vegetarian easily!  If you are not a pork eater, substitute chicken and/or shrimp.  Of course, you may use fresh okra, that's a must here in the south!

1 tbsp. minced garlic
1/2 cup, finely chopped onion
2 tbsp. corn or vegetable oil
3/4 lb. pork, sliced thinly into cubes
5 inch thick pieces of ginger
4 ripe tomatoes, cubed
1/2 cup bagoong (the saute' type, I like the shrimp paste, in a pinch you
   substitute fish sauce with some hoisin)
1/3 cup water
3 Asian eggplant (or 1 regular)
2 cups bitter melon, seeded and cut into 2 inch lengths, (or use the same with
    zucchini, only not seeded)
1 10 oz package frozen lima beans
1 10 oz. package of frozen okra
Salt and pepper to taste.

1.  Heat oil and saute the garlic and onion.  Add the pork and cook for 15 minutes, stirring.  Add in the ginger and tomatoes, cook, stirring, for another 10 minutes.  Add the bagoon and cook for another 3 minutes.  Add the water and bring to a full boil.  Add the rest of the vegetables and cook for 15 minutes at a simmer.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve hot.  This dish is sometimes called "Filipino Ratatouille," and like the classic, it can be served at room temperature.  When serving hot, serve with white rice.  Adding shrimp at the last minute is done in some parts of the islands.  To make vegetarian, skip the meat and substitute the fish paste with soy sauce mixed with hoisin.  Can also add pepper or chiles to this to make it spicier.

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