Tempeh & Bitter Gourd Chili Stir-fry

tempehbittergourd

I love bitter gourd. I love tempe. I love chili. A combination of three things I love in a plate, perfect!

Bitter gourd, as the name implies, is bitter. There are certain preparations one can do to reduce the bitterness, the method I’m familiar with is by rubbing salt on it and squeezing it’s juice out. But that takes out it’s nutrients, no? What I do is I eat a thin slice of the bitter gourd, raw (yes, raw) – to determine it’s bitterness level. If it’s not that bitter I just cook it as it is. If it is very bitter then I prep it with the salt & squeeze method.

In the ingredients there’s a “Bumbu Inti Kokita A” – bumbu inti means essential seasoning. The brand Kokita created four types of seasoning often used in Indonesian cooking: A – for dishes that uses chili, B – for dishes with turmeric, C – for dishes with candle nut, and D – for dishes with garlic. It is practical to have them around for cooking. Check out the website for more information.

Ingredients:

  • Oil – 2 tablespoon
  • Garlic – 2 or 3 cloves, sliced thin
  • Onions – 1/4, diced
  • Chili – depends on how spicy you want it (I used 2 chilies)
  • Bumbu Inti Kokita A – 2 tablespoon
  • Tempe – sliced thin, about 1/2 cup
  • Bitter gourd – sliced thin, about 1 cup
  • Salt & pepper

To cook:

  1. Place half of oil on pan, lightly fry the tempeh, set aside
  2. Add the rest of oil to the pan, saute onions & garlic until fragrant
  3. Add Bumbu Inti Kokita A
  4. Add the chopped chilis
  5. Add fried tempeh back
  6. Add bitter gourd
  7. If its too dry, add a little amount of water
  8. Cover and let it cook until bitter gourd softens
  9. Season as necessary
  10. Serve with hot fluffy rice!

 

Kimchi & Bitter Gourd Fried Rice

I happen to have kimchi and bitter gourd in my fridge. I googled for kimchi & bitter gourd recipes but couldn’t find any, found how to make bitter gourd kimchi instead (basically pickled bitter gourd). Inspired by this kimchi fried rice recipe, I made up my own kimchi & bitter gourd fried rice.

Ingredients:

  • oil, about 1-2 tablespoon
  • garlic, 2-3 cloves
  • chili, 1
  • baby corn, 1
  • bitter gourd, 1/3 of a medium size
  • kimchi, a handful. Don’t throw away the liquid
  • one day old rice, 1 bowl
  • salt, pepper, soy sauce, or other flavoring of your choice
  • egg (optional; omit for vegan version)

(I only cooked a plate for myself and eyeballing the amount. Adjust as necessary)

  1. Heat wok, add oil
  2. Chop/press/whizz garlic & chili. Add to the hot oil
  3. Slice baby corn & bitter gourd thinly. After the garlic become fragrant, add them to the wok, toss around
  4. Add kimchi liquid to the wok, toss around
  5. Slice kimchi thinly, add them to the wok, toss around
  6. Add seasoning
  7. When the bitter gourd is soft, add rice, mix well until rice is coated with kimchi liquid
  8. Make space on the wok. Crack egg. Scramble with rice
  9. Serve hot!

This fried rice turned out great! The taste is spicy, a bit sour from kimchi, and just a hint of bitterness from the bitter gourd. I think other vegetables will work too, like carrot or bell pepper.

I didn’t take any picture this time. I’ll try to remember to take picture in my next kitchen adventures.

Life is like cooking

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Whoops it’s already a month from my last post. I’m lagging behind again on my writing. I didn’t have a regular schedule to sit down and write, I used to just squeeze in writing in between here and there. As my schedule becoming more full, this blog is forgotten. From now on I will schedule time on my calendar to write.

Also contributing to my lack of writing is, I think, I’m feeling like there’s not much more to say. I don’t feel like commenting on events. I certainly don’t feel like commenting on other people. And who am I to comment about books and other writings. So, I can only talk about my own ideas and personal experience. And lately I feel there’s nothing really worth to share.

Well that’s not exactly true. Somethings are worth sharing. I have a lot of notes in my notebooks and journals…  But I was not motivated enough to type it up it into a blog post… I decided to use my free time to do other things, like: reading, cooking, etc.

Cooking is not my forte. I rarely cook until recently. As a full time office worker I used leave home early in the morning and arrive back home at night – too early to cook breakfast and too late to cook dinner, we often just eat outside or buy takeaways to eat at home. As I am shifting into freelance work now, I got more time at home, and I start to explore cooking. Surprisingly I enjoyed cooking, although not so much about the cleaning up. I’m happy when I can prepare my own meal, I know exactly what went in there, it can be as spicy or as mild as I want, and there’s just something about creating a meal from scratch. And I believe that it’s more nourishing to eat home-cooked meal compared to mass-produced food.

I usually don’t follow recipes, I just go ahead and experiment with whatever ingredients I have available. Most of the time it worked, still there were a few times when the resulting dish is barely eatable (but I ate it anyway :P). As I gain more experience in cooking, generally the more skillful I become in selecting and processing the ingredients, resulting in better dish.

I think life is a lot like cooking. We got ingredients and tools, and it’s up to us how we process the ingredients, then the final result will depend on how skillful our processing is. A good cook can create a delicious dish from the simplest ingredients and the crudest tool with his skillful processing, and a bad cook can create a disastrous dish from the most expensive ingredients and the most sophisticated tools if he’s unskillful. The key here is the cook.

A delicious dish is like a good karma – a karma that benefits other people, beings, the earth. Good karma then generates more good ingredients – and with the good ingredients one can make even better dish. A bad dish is like a bad karma – it has negative effects to other people, beings, environment, earth etc… if handled unskillfully it can continues to spiral downward. Like in the TV show Masterchef, a good dish can get one to the safe zone – and a bad dish means one has to face the elimination.

The beauty is, it is always up to us to turn things around towards the better. There’s always a choice – and it’s always up to us. No matter what life has given us – it is up to us how we ‘cook’ it. Up to us how we live it. Up to us to choose our response.

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
~Victor E. Frankl

Image: Cooking adobo by Nicole Abalde