Japanese Bitter Gourd Salad

Bitter gourd, bitter melon, goya, karela, balsam-pear… this green, knobbly vegetable is actually known under many different names depending on where you are from! As per its name-sake the flavour of the flesh is very bitter and is an acquired taste at first-  but give it a go and you may never look back!SONY DSC

This cool and refreshing salad has a Japanese-inspired dressing that is rich with the umami of dashi fish stock, sweet mirin and fruity apple vinegar. Crunchy rings of bitter gourd are sweetened with small bursts of sweet tomato cubes and enlivened with fresh mint and lemon-basil leaves. It makes for a wonderful little side dish or appetizer whet the appetite!

Don’t be scared of the bitterness of the bitter gourd- the process of salting to remove some of the juices and then quickly blanching mellows the flavour considerably. If this is your first time trying this vegetable I hope this dish will have you return for seconds!

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Ingredients

For the salad:

  • 3 bitter gourds, cut into 5mm rings with seeds removed
  • 1 fresh tomato, de-seeded and cut into small dice
  • 1 handful of fresh mint leaves
  • 1 handful of fresh lemon-basil leaves
  • 1 large handful of dried bonito flakes

For the dressing:

  • 3″ square of dried kelp
  • 1 large handful of dried bonito flakes
  • 2-3 tsp instant dashi powder
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • 1-2 tsp apple vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Method

  1. Make the dressing. Place the dried kelp in a small saucepan and add in enough water to just cover the kelp. Bring to the boil and add in the dried bonito flakes. Cover and remove saucepan from heat. Leave to cool completely, then pour the stock through a fine sieve to remove the kelp and bonito flakes. Reserve the stock and discard the kelp and bonito flakes. Add the mirin, vinegar, sugar and sea salt to the stock. Taste and adjust seasoning if required.
  2. Place the sliced bitter gourd in a colander and massage in approximately 2 teaspoons of salt. Leave to stand for 15 minutes.
  3. Rinse the bitter gourd to remove the salt. Bring to a boil some water (enough to cover the bitter gourd) with a little salt in a large saucepan. Blanch the bitter gourd in the boiling water for 1 minute then refresh in ice water. Transfer the bitter gourd to a colander to drain.
  4. Mix together the stock with the bitter gourd, mint and lemon-basil. Leave to marinate for a least 30 minutes.
  5. Just before serving, mix in the diced tomato and top with dried bonito flakes.
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Here’s to a New Year like this Strawberry Salad!

Wishing you a HAPPY NEW YEAR, my friends!

I am welcoming in the new year with this scrumptious Strawberry Salad that embodies all I am wishing for: a Healthy, Fresh start filled with Sweet moments, Vibrant experiences and new Gastronomic DelightsSONY DSC

Without a doubt this has become my favourite salads of all time! Ripe sweet strawberries and cherry tomatoes, cool crunchy cucumber and fragrant basil with a tart balsamic reduction is simply heaven on a plate!

Ingredients

  • 6 ripe strawberries, halved
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • Approximately 6cm cucumber, thinly sliced and seeds removed
  • A handful of fresh basil leaves
  • Approximately 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Flaky sea salt and black pepper
  • Light olive oil
  1. To make the balsamic reduction, bring the balsamic vinegar to a boil in a small saucepan and turn down to a simmer until reduced to a syrupy consistency. Remove from heat and let cool.
  2. Arrange strawberries, tomatoes, cucumber and basil on a plate. Drizzle over the balsamic reduction ans olive oil. Season well with salt and black pepper. Enjoy!

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