In the interest of pursuing better health, my husband and I now eat more vegetables and seafood, rather than meat. But sometimes I’m at a loss as to what side dish to serve with the fish.
Mungo guisado, once a favorite, is not an option because it’s high in uric acid. Sautéed green beans is fine, but it can be boring. And I’ve served pinakbet, also a favorite, once too often.
In a burst of inspiration, I hit upon the idea of making an omelet out of plain simple ampalaya (bitter gourd).
Though it’s bitter, ampalaya can be made more palatable with the right preparation. I’ve found that soaking it in salt and vinegar neutralizes much of the bitterness.
In addition, the vinegar infuses the ampalaya with a hint of sourness, which I find very appealing.
Here’s the recipe for ampalaya omelet, which you may want to serve with your next seafood dish.
1 small ampalaya (about 150-200 g)
¼ c coarse salt
1 c white vinegar
2 tbsp cooking oil
Salt to taste
Cut the ampalaya in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Cut both halves of the ampalaya into about one-inch pieces. Put the ampalaya pieces into a nonreactive (not aluminum) bowl and sprinkle the salt all over the ampalaya. Pour in the vinegar. Let the ampalaya soak in the vinegar-and-salt mixture for at least 30 minutes.
Drain the ampalaya and rinse well in running water. Pat dry with paper towels.
Heat one tablespoon of the cooking oil in a skillet and add the ampalaya. Cook until soft but still slightly firm. Remove the ampalaya from the skillet.
Beat the eggs in a bowl and season to taste with salt. Add the remaining one tablespoon oil to the skillet and heat to medium. Pour in beaten eggs. Cook until the bottom of the eggs starts to solidify. Spoon the ampalaya into one side of the eggs. Let cook for about one more minute then fold the other half of the eggs onto the side with the ampalaya so as to enclose the ampalaya completely.
Using two wide, heat-proof spatulas, lift the omelet and transfer to a serving platter. Makes two to three servings.
For more tips, recipes and stories, visit the author’s blog www.normachikiamco.com and Facebook fan page www.facebook.com/normachikiamco. Follow on Twitter @NormaChikiamco