Monday, November 28, 2022

Spicy Karela (Bitter Melon) Side Dish


Chinese Bitter Melon Recipe

Side Dish, probably, but who am I to quibble if you want to make it a main dish and if you want to make it #WFPB style, just leave out the oil and instead stir-fry some finely cut-up onion in 1/2 cup of water  water, and at the end, if you want to serve this over rice, I would add a 1/2 cup of water with 1/2 tsp arrowroot dissolved, and you would have some kind of a spicy karela sauce. You can serve that over rice. I even did this for breakfast once - that'll wake you up.

In general, I am finding that when oil seems essential, you can always caramelize some onions in water first. In this case, you would actually first stirfry the Sichuan peppercorns, then discard them, as shown on the video and add the finely cut-up onions into the peppery water, 

PRINTABLE RECIPE - INGREDIENTS 500 grams of bitter melon 1 tsp of salt to reduce the bitter taste 6-8 pieces of dried red chilies 3-4 pieces of fresh red chilies 1 tsp of salt to rub the bitter melon 3-5 cloves of garlic 1 small onion cut-up fine
1 cup of water with Yondu 1 tsp of Sichuan peppercorn optional: 1/4 cup of water with 1/2 tsp arrowroot (or other starch)
Salt to taste, but not needed if using Yondu.


* Cut the bitter melon in half, then quarter it. Remove the white spongy inside part. You can use a rounded teaspoon (or a grapefruit spoon with serrated edges) to scrape the last bits of the white part.

* Cut it with a 45-degree angle into 1/3 of an inch thick slices. Season it with 1 tsp of salt. Rub for a few minutes. Let it sit for 15 minutes.

* Cut some red, dried chilies open and remove the seeds.

* Roughly dice some fresh red chilies

* Press 5 cloves of garlic through a garlic presser.

* Optionally, prepare 1 tsp of Sichuan peppercorns.

* Now go back and check out the bitter melon. Squeeze out as much moisture as you can.

* Rinse the bitter melon with cold running water several times. Drain it but doesn’t need to be thorough, for you need some water anyway.

* Stir-fry the Sichuan peppercorns in 1/4 cup of the water with Yondu.

* Once you see the color of the peppercorns is getting dark, you can take them out and discard them.

* Next, stir-fry the onions with 1/2 cup of water with Yondu.

*Turn the heat to medium. Add in the bitter melon, dried chili, fresh chili, and garlic. Stir for a couple of minutes.

* Turn the heat to low. As the temperature climbs up slowly, the water will be seasoned with the peppercorn flavor and the onions.

* Give it a taste. The Yondu makes the taste, you can adjust with more Yondu or a small amount of Bragg's Liquid Aminos. Add the 1/4 cup of water with starch. The salt in the Yondu or the Liquid Aminos will suppress a little bit of the bitter taste, the starch will make the sauce. 

* Give it a final stir and you are done.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Pad Thai in a Hurry, with Cauliflower

 The other day, coming home from a tiresome journey, I needed a meal to pick me up, but I had no energy for any big production, and here the conveniences of a smart pantry came to the rescue.

On the way home I had picked up a beautiful head of Fioretto cauliflower, and I remembered that I still

had some Annie Chun's Brown Rice Pad Thai noodles, and some Maesri Thai Red Curry Paste, as well as a package of frozen Goya Fajita Mix, as well as a king mushroom. With the help of some onions and garlic, a deliciously refreshing and spicy meal was quickly ready.
Usually, I regard meal prep as a necessary part of therapy, it is a wonderful way of communing with nature on the 4th floor in the Bronx, and looking out on a side street.

But there are times when convenience counts, and 

you can still have a healthy meal, so here we go:


  • 1 onion
  • 3-6 cloves of garlic
  • 1 king mushroom
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 can of Thai Curry
  • 1 bag of Fajita Mix
  • 1 TBSP of arrowroot (or other starch)
  • Brown Rice Pad Thai noodles.


  • Soak the Pad Thai noodles in hot water for 10 mins, rinse cold and set aside.
  • Cut up the onion fine.
  • Mince the garlic
  • Cut up the king mushroom in strips (I use a mandoline)
  • Stir-fry in the water for a while
  • Add the curry paste
  • Cut up the Cauliflower in florets
  • Add to the mix and let it cook on medium flame for 2 minutes
  • Add the Fajita Mix, and cook until soft, turn down the heat to just a simmer
  • mix the starch with a 1/4 cup of cold water, and add to the mix.
  • At the end add in the noodles and let them warm up.
Serve. Enjoy.

Evidently you could use different mushrooms, or you can add in a handful of fresh peanuts if you have them, and depending if you permit yourself some nuts, which tends to be a hot topic in plant-based circles. Evidently, if you are a serious heart patient, follow Dr. Esselstyn and avoid nuts and seeds, avocado and coconut, because of the oil content. You get all the fat you need from beans, etc.