Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Ampalaya con Kani

[Sauteed bitter melon with crab meat]

One day, when we had excess crab meat languishing in the freezer, and all the vegetable drawer contained was ampalaya, I discovered that ampalaya and crab meat can be a great pair to make ampalaya con kani (an intended pun on the common Pinoy dish ampalaya con karne). It is actually a better altrernative for me, who generally avoids meat.

Eating sauteed ampalaya can be considered in line with the sacrificial spirit of Lent at our house, because the househelp don't like it and will just have instant noodles when it is the dish I ask them to cook.

We eat it regularly - maybe once a week - and maybe I should have bought tons of ampalaya for this Holy Week, but it is hardly sacrifice for me and the hubby because we like eating it, not only for the taste but for its health benefits, as well. It would be bitching towards the househelp on my part to impose ampalaya on the entire household this week - not a good attitude, now or outside of Lent.

I like ampalaya cooked simply - sliced, salted, and squeezed, then sauteed with garlic, onions and tomatoes. Topped with cubes of fried tokwa (tofu) if I had remembered to buy at the market. And that's it. No eggs or ground meat. Great with fried or grilled fish.

But we have this once in a while, when there is left-over crabs, or alimasag. Or when I chance upon crab meat in the grocery. Rather than cook crab meat in an omelet, upping the cholesterol level, we have them with ampalaya. I would like to believe the health benefits of ampalaya compensates for the richness of the crab, especially when it is female and full of hard, orange fat, as I am wont to buy.

And I think I earn some brownie points when we have ampalaya con kani, because - wonder of wonders - the househelp eat it! And not just token eating it, but really eating it like they like ampalaya. As in, no leftovers. Which is actually good for one of the househelp because she is anemic.

Abstinence from meat during Lent is hardly sacrifice for us in the house because we hardly have meat, anyway. And actually, not eating meat these days is hardly sacrificial at all. We can all avoid eating meat, yet still eat luxuriously, and not with the spirit of sacrifice. Premium seafood is available anytime, in markets and restaurants.

Eating ampalaya con kani during Lent may not be in line with the spirit of sacrifice also, but for those who are seriously avoiding meat this week and are used to eating ampalaya con karne, this would be a great alternative.

Ampalaya Con Kani
2 ampalaya
1 cup crab meat
3 pieces tomatoes, sliced
crushed garlic
sliced onion
sea salt
cooking oil

  1. Wash ampalaya and slice off the ends. Slice thinly.
  2. Sprinkle salt on the ampalaya slices and mix thoroughly. Let stand for a few minutes.
  3. Squeeze out the juices from the ampalaya slices several times, until limp. Wash under running water and drain.
  4. Heat oil in a pan. When smoke starts to rise, put in garlic, stirring until golden brown. Add onion slices. When then onions have turned transparent add the tomatoes. Stir regularly.
  5. When the tomatoes have gone limp add the crab meat and let cook for five minutes.
  6. Add the ampalaya slices, then season with salt, and ground white pepper if preferred. Cover and let cook.
  7. The ampalaya is done in about five mintues more of cooking, but if you don't like ampalaya undercooked let it stay in the pan longer, about ten to fifteen minutes.


Anonymous said...

omy kai!
you made me drool over those ampalaya! been a while since i had this and with kani!!! sounds good!
btw, great round-up, too bad i wasn't able to join...but i just might try one of those entries now...thanks!

Kai said...

Oo nga Ces, puro na nga lang ginataan niluluto sa bahay ngayon, ang sarap ng mga entries. Para akong naglilihi sa amoy pa lang ng gata. ;-)