Growing up, my parents grew bitter melon in our garden in Pennsylvania, so they used it in a lot of dishes. It took me awhile to get used to the flavor as it is very bitter (hence, the name). I wondered what our neighbors thought of us because we were always outside cultivating something, and bitter melon was one of the more exotic vegetables we grew. I knew bitter melon as, Ampalaya, which is the Filipino name. It’s also popular in India where it’s referred to as Karela.
It’s a type of fruit grown in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. When eaten raw, the taste is bitter but when cooked the bitterness is more subdued. It looks like a cucumber with gourd-like bumps everywhere and has a beautiful lime green color. There have been many studies on the vitamin-heavy bitter melon which has a very long list of health benefits like stimulating digestion, a cold and flu remedy, and even the use as treatment for cancer and diabetes. It is also very popular in Filipino cooking, especially in stews or stir-fries. The recipe I made was one of my mom’s favorite breakfasts growing up in the Philippines. We eat it with rice, along with some spicy Sriracha sauce. Bitter melon can be found at most Asian grocery stores or Whole Foods. You can substitute with zucchini if you can’t find it.
Bitter Melon Scrambled Eggs Recipe
3/4 cup bitter melon, halved & sliced
1/4 cup tomatoes, chopped
2 slices bacon, roughly chopped (*can be omitted for vegetarian option)
1 teaspoon garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon onion, chopped
salt (or fish sauce) & pepper, to taste
Heat a skillet on medium. Add bacon and cook for about 2 minutes. In the meantime, whisk eggs. Then scoop out insides of bitter melon and slice. Set eggs and bitter melon aside. Add garlic and onion to the bacon and saute for about a minute, then add bitter melon, cook for about 2 minutes, until soft. Add tomatoes and saute for about 3-4 minutes. Add eggs and scramble to desired consistency. I usually like my eggs runny but not for this recipe, so I cooked them through. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with a side of rice.
Total Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 2 servings