I saw this dish while working in a Japanese restaurant a while back. Goya Champul originated from Okinawa, a southern Japan island. Goya is Bitter Melon in Japanese and Champul means scrambled. This dish is popular in the Philippines as “Ampalaya Con Carne”. The ingredients are basically the same except that beef is used instead of pork. In Japan, it is popularly credited with Okinawan life expectancies.
When I was growing up, I remember most of the parents forcing their children to eat bitter melon. It has a lot of health benefits. It is said to be good for diabetes, digestion, anemia, gastro intestinal diseases, malaria and constipation to name a few. I would never ever eat bitter melon growing up. It was too bitter!
Now back to the restaurant. A lot of the customers order this dish as an appetizer. It caught my curiosity. I have to give this wonder vegetable another try.
First ordeal was where to buy the vegetable. I have gone to a big supermarket chains but I can never find the gourd. One day, on a trip to the Indian store, I found something that looked like the bitter melon. Apparently, there are different kinds of bitter melon. The indian variety is darker, shorter and has pointed ends and has more ridges. They call it “Karela”. The Chinese variety on the other hand is lightly colored and the ridges are smoother.
My second mission was to make the vegetable less bitter. I have seen our “Yaya Maring” soaking it in salted water for at least 30 minutes and then rinsing it before cooking. I have tried this method but the bitterness is still prominent. I tried slicing it thinly and putting salt (without putting water) and letting it sit for 30 minutes. I then rub the salt and bitter melon and rinsed it twice. This trick turned out better.
So here is the rest of the dish ….
1 medium onion sliced lengthwise
1 big clove garlic minced
1 tbsp vegetable oil
½ pound pork (tenderloin or shoulder), sliced lengthwise
1 medium bitter melon (de-seeded and sliced thinly)
1 medium red bell pepper
1 medium green bell pepper (optional)
3 squares medium soft tofu, diced and lightly fried
2 eggs, beaten
1 tbsp soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste
2 tsps sesame oil
Saute onions and garlic in medium low heat.
When the onions turn translucent and the garlic slightly gold brown, put in the pork.
Turn up the heat to brown the pork.
Add the bitter melon and bell peppers. Do not mix or stir !!!! Wait until the vegetables are golden brown before stirring. Mixing it releases the bitterness in the gourd.
Create a well in the middle of the pan and add the beaten eggs. Let it sit for 2 minutes. Mix the eggs with the pork and vegetables.
Add the slighty fried tofu.
Season with soy sauce, salt and pepper.
Drizzle sesame oil and lightly toss before serving.
Serve as an appetizer or eat with steamed rice.
I hope this dish will make your kids try bitter melon. Remember, it’s the wonder vegetable!