We are growing goya or bittergourd as it is known ( momordica charantia or momordica chinensis) in school this term and each of us have to bring home our pot for the summer vacation. We then harvest it and get to eat it at home.
The plant is native of China and India, and has been used by indigenous people of the Amazon and Brazil as well.
The plant, a vine, grows 10 cm a day. And it bears a vegetable shaped like a gourd before the flower even drops off, see below…
Many Japanese and Chinese like to eat this vegetable stir-fried with meat like beef or pork and sometimes with egg (you strip the thick skin and the core first and cut it in rings or strips). It tastes bitter, I don’t like it at all but all parents will tell you it’s very good for your health.
Gourdin is what makes the vegetable bitter, it has also many other potent medicinal substances.
|The angry housewife, Smashing and beating the eggs: Bitter gourds for lunch.|
|By Linda Inoki|
If you are feeling hot and bothered you could reach for a cold, fizzy drink — or a lumpy, green goya. In Okinawa, bitter gourd (or bitter melon) is traditionally eaten in summer when it is valued as a “medicine for the heat.” Certainly, bitter gourds are packed with goodness. They are about seven times higher in vitamin C than lemons, contain twice the potassium of bananas, and offer lots of other vitamins and minerals too. The only drawback is the taste, which is extremely bitter. That is why it is usually eaten with scrambled eggs or tofu, in the famous stir-fry dish called goya champuru. Older islanders recall that nearly every family used to have its goya vine growing in the yard. The gourds are picked when still young and green. If they are left to ripen they turn orange and split open to reveal red seeds. The small flowers are pale yellow, trumpet-shaped and wrinkled. This is typical of the Cucurbit family of plants, which includes melons, pumpkins and cucumbers. In the wild, this strong vine (Mormordica charantia) will run up trees and scramble over rocks, covering a large area with its five-lobed leaves. In recent years the vegetable has become more popular in mainland Japan, where it is usually known as nigauri (bitter melon). Originally, the plant hails from Southeast Asia, where it is indispensable in cuisine and as an herbal medicine. By the way, if you want to try cooking bitter gourds, remember to split them lengthwise and remove the core and white seeds, as these are inedible. — Japan Times Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2006