Ampalaya Meets Eggplant
Christmas in Pampanga
Bitter Melon Salad is a classic Philippine recipe. This one is from a friend from the island of Pampanga, where the dish is very popular. The dish makes use of the affinity between Bitter Melon and Eggplant, two vegetables that go well together
Bitter Melon Salad
1 Bitter Melon (Ampalaya)
1 Eggplant, about 1 pound
1 cup of Rice Vinegar or Coconut Palm Vinegar
½ teaspoon Salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
¼ cup Sugar
1 small finger fresh Ginger, about 1½ inches long
1 medium Spanish onion
1 Sweet Red Pepper
Cut the Spanish Onion in fine julienne.
Wash the Eggplant and, leaving it unpeeled, cut it into stripls about 1 inch by 2 inches long.
Leave the Ampalaya (Bitter Melon) unpeeled, and cut it in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds. Then cut it into strips about 1 inch by 2 inches.
Wash the Red Pepper, cut it open and discard the seeds. Then slice the Pepper crosswise into thin rings.
Cut open the Red Pepper, removing the seeds and cut into thin rings.
When all the cutting and trimming is complete, combine the Vinegar, Salt, Pepper, Sugar, Ginger and Onion in a saucepan and let it simmer over a low flame without stirring, about 5 minutes, until the Sugar is fully dissolved.
Finally, drop the Eggplant, Butter Melon and Red Pepper into the seasoning mixture. Cover the saucepan and simmer over a low flame for 10 minutes more. Let the vegetables cool and chill them in the refrigerator. The key to this dish is the Eggplant , which needs to be thoroughly cooked.
This dish is served chilled. It’s best if you make it a day ahead, chill in the refrigerator and serve the next day.
Although it’s good any time of year, the colors are so pretty at Christmas time that it may be a good choice for that season, so, “Christmas in Pampanga.”