Tempeh & Bitter Gourd Chili Stir-fry

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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!

 

Eggplant & Broccoli Pasta

recipe-eggplantbroccolipasta

Eggplant & Broccoli Pasta

This dish is inspired by my friend Mitra who posted about her eggplant pasta on her Facebook. Easy, very quick, & delicious!

Ingredients:

  • pasta of your choice (I used angel hair as that’s what I happen to have)
  • olive oil, about 2 tablespoon
  • onion, 1/4
  • garlic, 2-3 cloves
  • tomatoes, 2 medium size
  • chili or dry chili, up to your tastebuds
  • salt & pepper
  • Italian herbs of your choice
  • eggplant, 1 medium size
  • broccoli florets, about half a cup
  • optional: flaxseed oil, cheese

I was only cooking for myself and as always kinda eyeballing the amount of ingredients. Adjust as necessary.

To cook:

  1. Boil water in a deep enough saucepan for your pasta, cook pasta according to instruction
  2. While cooking the pasta, 2-3 minutes towards the end of cooking time, throw in broccoli florets too. I like my broccoli bright green and crunchy so I only boil it very quickly.  *I used angel hair and it took only 2 minutes to cook so I started with step 3 first.
  3. While cooking the pasta, heat pan, add half of the olive oil
  4. Cut eggplant into 1 cm thick slices, pan fry, turn them after a while
  5. While pasta is cooking and eggplant is frying, roughly puree tomato, garlic, & chili. Chop onion.
  6. When eggplant is soft, set aside.
  7. Use the same pan, add the rest of the olive oil
  8. Saute onion until transluscent & fragrant
  9. Add the tomato garlic chili mixture, mix around & let it boil. The tomato mixture will change color from pinkish towards orange
  10. Season with salt, pepper, and herbs
  11. Add eggplant in the sauce
  12. When pasta & broccoli is ready, drain, reserving a little of pasta water
  13. Add pasta & broccoli in the pan, mix. If it’s too dry, add a bit pasta water
  14. Check for taste and adjust seasoning as necessary
  15. Optional: drizzle flaxseed oil, grate cheese on top
  16. Serve immediately!

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.

Animals

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I have no inspiration to write at the moment… so this post may become one of those rambling post where I just dumped my thoughts on the keyboard.

Recently on my social media I saw a lot of ‘call to protest’ and to stop this certain dog-meat festival that is happening in certain country later this month. I don’t want to put on any specific details, I’m sure it’s googlable. (Hey, new word: Googlable!)

Many of my friends are protesting against this festival for obvious reasons. That dogs are pets, they are human’s best friends, they are cute, etc etc. There are pictures of dogs in various states of ‘going to the slaughterhouse’ – bound up, crammed in cages, etc. Those pictures made me cringe.

Yes I’m against this dog-meat festival. I’m also against cruelty to other animals. Pictures of chickens, cows, pigs going to the slaughterhouse also made me cringe. I see no difference between dogs and cats and chickens and cows and pigs.

I grew up eating meat. Like most people I’m conditioned to see certain animals as pets and certain animals as food. I had dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, turtle as pets. And I ate chicken, beef, pork, and fish daily. There were a few times when my mom purchased a live rooster for cooking – and so I witnessed the slaughtering process up close. I remembered I felt sorry for the rooster, it obviously didn’t want to die, but I suppose it was a quick (albeit painful) process, slit by the throat and had the blood drained out. Yet I happily gobbled down the cooked rooster at dinner time.

In university one of my project is about recycling. And so I read a lot about environmental sustainability that time. I found that one of the action we can do towards sustainability is to eat less meat, due to the resources needed to produce meat. Then I started to venture into vegetarianism. At the beginning it was just an experiment, just to see if I can survive without eating meat. After I graduated university, got a job etc, and I found yoga, and found out one of the Yama, the universal morality, is Ahimsa, translated as ‘non-violence’. Non-violence towards all beings, not only to humans. So there’s more reason for me to not eat meat.

After not eating meat for a while I didn’t even want it. A plate of juicy steak used to be a yummy fare for me, but after not eating meat for a while a hunk of meat becomes overwhelming.

I admit I still eat little pieces and bits if it’s in a cooking like soups or stir-fry and it wasn’t convenient for me to ask for a non-meat version, for example if I’m at home and mom cooked for the whole family. But if I have full control of what I order or cook, I opted meat out.

Anyway. Back to the dog-meat festival. I once ate a small piece of dog meat, in a Batak restaurant, a long long time ago, because I was curious of the taste. It tasted like meat, I couldn’t tell the difference. (Batak is an ethnic group from the North Sumatra, they commonly consumed dog meat)

Viewing certain animals as food, and certain animals as pets, is a culture thing. Like in India, cows are viewed as friends of the family because it help them mow the land, gave them milk, and thus not to be eaten. So cows roam freely and happily, undisturbed. Yet I saw a documentary recently where these cows are smuggled to the borders of the country, because the neighboring countries view cows as food.

Wether a certain animal is food or not food is cultural. There are even cultures or group of people who view other people as food. Read more here: Cannibalism – a history of people who eat people.

I hope the dog-meat festival will not happen, that enough people protest and make it stop. At the same time, I also hope that more and more people eat less meat, so less chickens, cows, pigs, lambs, fish, etc got slaughtered. The dog-meat festival is a once a year thing, whereas the slaughter houses operates everyday to meet the demand of consumers.

What’s the difference between a dog and a cow? Between a cat and a chicken? They’re all animals. Not that much different with us.

Image source: Getting to know each other by Blue Gum