Home Food The Sweet Rewards of Bitter Melon

The Sweet Rewards of Bitter Melon

by белый

Asian American chefs are embracing the medicinal gourd anew.

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On broad banana leaves, dishes of sweet soy dipping sauce, a creamy pork liver sauce, a bubbling pinakbet, some sticky rice and a raw salad of slivered bitter melon and red onion flank a crackling lechon like planets orbiting the sun. This is the final savory course of the kamayan dinner, a Filipino family-style meal, at Naks in the East Village of Manhattan. Small but mighty, raw and crisp, the vibrantly green bitter melon packs a fierce bitterness that effortlessly holds up against the other heady accouterments.

“It adds a little complexity,” said Eric Valdez, the chef at Naks. “It plays around with your senses, in a good way.”

Recipe: Stir-Fried Bitter Melon and Eggs

As a child in Manila, Mr. Valdez didn’t care for bitter melon, an oblong summer squash, also known as bitter gourd, with a wrinkly, ridged surface and spongy seed pocket. But his mother, believing it was nutritious, kept serving it to the family. She’d envelop the bitter melon in rich scrambled eggs and sweet shrimp in a stir-fry that tempered its bitterness.

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