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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

How to Survive the Bitterness in Life?

While a Chinese is asked to consume bitter gourd served on the table and refuses, he would get a silly comment over his gentle rejection. Something goes like "If you can't take bitter gourd you can't survive the bitterness of life!". Wow!

As a child, my Mom used to say that it was good to consume a little bit of everything so our bodies will store a wide variety of nutritients. Apparently my Mom was aware too that bitter gourd had been used in various Asian traditional medicine since long time ago. Like other bitter-tasting foods, bitter gourd stimulates digestion. Therefore, no matter how bitter and unappetizing it was for us kids, bitter gourd was served for dinner dish from time to time. And Mom would stared at us and sent her alarming signal "Take a bit even if you don't like it!" with no words necessary.

As a grown-up, I took it occasionally... of course purely out of my choice. My liking for bitter gourd grew naturally to the extent that I might have it for a couple of days in a row. Have to admit that I am craving for it right at this very moment as I am typing.... :-)

Serves 3 persons

1. Couscous

- Couscous > 1 cup
- Water > 1 cup
- Salted butter > 35 grams
- Black raisins > 35 grams
- Salt > 1/4 teaspoon

Method :
- Cook water and raisins on pan over high heat. When boiled, remove from fire.
- Fold in couscous and cover pan for 10 minutes to let couscous absorb water and grow.
- Fold in butter and salt. Combine well.
- Bring pan back to fire and stir until butter totally dissolves.
- Remove from heat and set aside for later use.

2. Bitter Gourd Dish

- Corn flour > 2 teaspoons
- Sugar > 2 teaspoons
- Water > 2 teaspoons
- Bitter gourd – halve vertically, cut into 1 cm slices > 150 grams
- Shitake mushrooms – halve > 10
- Prawn – remove shell, devein > 100 grams
- Dried anchovy > 30 grams
- Vegetable oil > 3 tablespoons
- Salted bean paste > 2 tablespoons
- Red chilies – slice lengthwise > 3
- Green chilly – slice lengthwise > 1
- Garlic - slice > 2 cloves
- Shallot - slice > 2 cloves
- Sugar > 2 teaspoons

- Mix corn flour and sugar with water. Set aside.
- Blanch bitter gourd slices in hot boiled water for a short while. Remove and drain.
- Heat pan and pour in the vegetable oil.
- Sauté garlic, shallot and dried anchovy until fragrant.
- Add bitter gourd, red and green chilies, and salted bean paste. Toss well.
- Place in prawns and stir fry for a while. Pour corn mixture in. Bring to boil.
Simmer for 3 minutes.
- Serve hot.

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