With the summer heat come wonderful veggies: cool cucumbers, tasty tomatoes — and the grotesque goya. Called bitter melon in English (they should have found a better publicist!), goya is generally boiled for a short time or sauteed before using to take the edge off its bitterness, but can be used raw if you’re feeling adventurous. Goya definitely adds a zing! to these Japanese recipes and is an extra-cooling addition when used in cold salads.
One of the best known recipes is goya chanpuru from Okinawa, in which it’s sauteed with tofu in a light soy-based sauce. Recently we’ve eaten chanpuru, goya tempura rings with matcha green tea salt, hijiki kelp salad with goya and more. Here are three more recipes that we’ve loved:
Recipe: Goya and bonito flake salad
Wash goya and cut into rounds. Remove seed pith. Boil for less than one minute, making sure that it’s still crunchy. Toss with some bonito flakes and a dash of soy sauce. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve immediately or chill.
Recipe: Korean-style vegetable donburi rice bowl (feeds 4)
Ingredients: vegetables of your choice–we used goya, green and red peppers, eggplant, mushrooms, okra.
- 1 T sesame oil
- 2 tsp grated ginger
- 2 tsp grated garlic
- 3 T soy sauce
- 1.5 T brown sugar
- 1.5 T rice vinegar
- 1 T sesame seeds
- 3 T sliced green onion
In a frying pan, heat sesame oil over medium heat, sautee ginger and garlic until aromatic but be careful not to burn them. Add soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, sesame seeds, and green onion. After sugar dissolves add water until the sauce is runny but not weak–probably about 1-2 T. Remove sauce to a dish.
Boil the okra and goya for one minute and drain. Over med-hi heat, sautee the vegetables in regular oil one at a time until they’re just done. Pour sauce over veggies while they’re hot.
Arrange vegetables on a bowl of rice. Pour remaining sauce over the top to taste.
Recipe: Goya and cucumber cold vinegared salad (feeds 4)
This is the perfect salad for cooling off on a hot day!
- 1 cucumber, sliced thin
- 1 goya, pith removed, sliced thin
- Wakame seaweed, either reconstituted or fresh, 1/4 C
- Meat from salted dried white fish, grilled and taken off bone, 1/4 C (optional)
- Sesame seeds, 1 T
- Chopped ginger, 1 T
- Shiso leaves, 4
- Rice vinegar, 2 T
- Brown sugar, 2 tsp
- Soy sauce, 2 tsp
Slice cucumber and massage in appx 2 t salt (should be significantly salty to the taste). Set aside for 10 minutes, drain water, and squeeze to remove more. Cucumber should be lightly salty at this point; if it’s too salty you can briefly rinse and squeeze again.
Remove seed pith and slice goya, boil for two minutes in salted water and drain.
Julienne shiso leaves. Combine all ingredients, dress, and add salt or sugar to taste. Chill and serve.
For other interesting recipes including goya, check out the National Bitter Melon Council’s website.
Enjoy, and stay cool!