Thursday, January 28, 2010

Reader's Recipes

Food floods our memories nd trigger sensations -- little wonder that there are so many eating disorders. Pinoys are perhaps one of the most food-centric people in the world. Government employees can attest to the fact that no meeting can be held without at least a token attempt to serve food. Greetings are usually succeeded with a "Kumain ka na ba?" (Have you eaten?). Eating alone is taboo and chancing on a person who is eating necessitates the eater to invite the other to partake of the meal with the traditional, "Kain tayo?" (Lets eat?).

Readers of this blog have been excitedly sharing their recipes and memories. Today Bong David shares his Lola's casual bangus and Dr. Alberto Lee is back with

Lola Abe's Bangus
Bong David

Season banugs. Then marinade  (2 heads chopped and bellies in small cubes) in little vinegar. After a while (30 mins) sautee with garlic, onions, little tomato, 2 big green chili. Then pour water boil add dahon ng sili simmer and done.

Sorry about the other specific amounts. Use own judgement. Hope you like it as I do. Thanks.

Bitter melon soup, anyone?
By. Dr. Alberto Lee
Bitter melon, better known in Tagalog as ampalaya, is a common produce sold in manila markets and grocery stores. in Houston, it is easily accessible in Chinatown. Bitter melon, stir fried with beef, is a common fare in the Filipino and Chinese restaurants. However, I have never seen bitter melon soup being offered in the menu here or in Manila, at least in the manner that I prepare it which I will describe later.

Bitter melon is popular in India where it is prepared with potatoes and served with yogurt. In Okinawa, Japan, bitter melon is popular and is credited for longevity. In the Philippines, it is used as part of a popular dish called pinakbet. Bitter melon is also popular in countries like Pakistan, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam where it is prepared with coconut milk or curry. Some studies have shown that bitter melon contains a lectin that can lower the level of blood sugar and therefore beneficial for people with diabetes mellitus.

The taste for bitter melon dishes is definitely an acquired taste. Many people find it revolting to eat such a dish that has bitterness as its main flavor and nothing else. There is no special aroma, or even a hint of sweetness to it. Our taste buds can detect sweetness, bitterness, sourness and saltiness and another sensation called umami. The tip of the tongue is most sensitive to sweet taste and the back of the tongue is sensitive to bitter taste. At the base of each taste bud there is a nerve that sends the sensations to the brain. This is why kissing without using the tongue as part of the tools is not as sweet as using it.

I got carried away by the last sentence and almost forgot to present the recipe for the bitter melon soup. Here it is:
4 pieces of bitter melon, cut cross-wised and gutted. (clean the innards and seeds out using a small knife) set aside.

1 small onion, minced.

5 cloves of garlic, minced.

1 small can of water chestnuts, minced.

one bundle of scallions, minced. set aside to be used before serving the soup

1 egg

bread crumbs

1 pound of 96% lean ground beef

salt and pepper to taste
Combine the beef, onion, garlic, water chestnuts, egg, salt and pepper in a suitable bowl and mix it thoroughly adding breadcrumbs 1 tablespoonful at a time until you get the right consistency. That's right, like making spaghetti meatballs. Now, insert the fillings into the hollowed-out bitter melons and fill it to capacity. Set aside. If you made too much fillings or not enough, don't panic. Nothing will be wasted.
In a deep pot, bring to a boil 4 to 5 cans of chicken stock or beef stock. If you are one of those fastidious cook and prefer to make your own stock, go ahead. Nothing is carved in stone when it comes to cooking. Always cook with great abundance! And smile while cooking, even if you may appeared like a nut to the by-standers. A happy cook makes a better meal. Everything in life depends on good attitude.
Where was I? Oh, the cooking process. Gently put the stuffed bitter melon, one at a time, into the boiling broth so as not to burn yourself. Cover the pot, let it boil for 20 minutes or so or until the bitter melon is softened. Yes, you may check it from time to time to prevent overcooking. Garnish the soup with the scallions and serve piping hot.
To make the soup into a meal by itself, add rice noodles and you have a complete meal with all the proteins, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins and minerals required for the day. I forgot to mention that if you have too much fillings, just roll it into a ball and drop it into the soup. If you do not have enough fillings, chop up the bitter melons into small slices and drop them into the soup.
I love bitter melon soup! Thank you, mother.


DeliSyosa said...

Interesting how you get carried away, Doc.
Guys, this is an amazing read.

LPM said...

Yum!!!! And so very pretty!
Thanks for the easy to follow instructions and sprinkling of humor.
Thank you, Mother Lee!