There are nights where I just want to eat vegetables after all the rich food I’ve been scarfing down for the past several days and yesterday it was rainy and a pretty lazy night. I wanted to have something healthy, green, fresh and spicy.
So I opened the crisper and found some useful vegetables for my stirfry: Ampalaya (bitter gourd), Tomatoes, A Shallot, A Siling Sigang (Green Chili) and A Saging na Saba (Cardava Banana). The Ampalaya does wonders for diabetes (which is in my family), Tomatoes are good for the skin and heart, Siling Sigang is packed with Vitamin C and Saging Saba has a really good amount of fibre in it. For taste I used a some bagoong (shrimp paste).
For the bitter gourd or ampalaya, I salt and wash this to remove some of the bitterness since it will basically overwhelm everything if I don’t do this. I like my vegetables crisp so this didn’t really spend that much time on the stove. I know this sounds like an odd dish, but it actually came out good. There was a play of crisp to soft textures from the vegetables, and a range of salty, bitter, spicy and juicy (tomatoes) and a pleasant hint of sweetness from the banana.
So here’s an approximation of what I did:
1/2 of ampalaya or biter gourd, chopped
1/4 cup of tomatoes, chopped
1 saging na saba (cardava banana) chopped
1 green finger chili or siling sigang
1 tsp garlic
1 small shallot, chopped
1/2 – 1 tbsp bagoong (or left-over binagoongan baboy like what I did)
1 tbsp oil
1. Salt the ampalaya and mix by hand. You will see that the juices are going to start coming out. Squeeze out the juices and wash under running water. You can do this 2-3 times to remove the strong bitterness (this was a secret i learned from my lolo’s old cook). After that, drain the ampalaya properly.
2. Using a non-stick pan, over high heat, saute the shallot and garlic along with the shrimp paste in oil. Add the ampalaya, tomatoes and the chili.
3. When the colors begin to darken (darker doesn’t mean soggy guys!), add the banana and mix until you see that the bitter gourd turns into a darker green color. Season with pepper and salt if needed. Remove from heat and serve.
I really don’t like soggy vegetables and since all these vegetables can be eaten raw anyway, these babies don’t have to stay too long on the fire. Done right, all the vegetables are crunchy and still quite vibrant, and yet coated with the shrimp paste/bagoong.