Lasang Pinoy 18 – Ampalaya Con Carne

Share on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

I really don’t know how to start my entry but how I love Toni’s kwentong gulay and so here it goes for Lasang Pinoy 18 – Oh My Gulay!

I remember harvesting eggplant, ampalaya (bitter gourd), okra, and tomatoes. Not to mention kangkong, talbos ng kamote, sili, saluyot at malunggay. Yup, my dad kept a vegetable garden in our backyard when we were kids. That must be the reason why my siblings and I never had qualms about eating vegetables; we were fed fresh veggies direct from the garden.

I remember the 1st veggie dishes I ever tried cooking were the very Pinoy sauteed vegetable dishes ginisang repolyo, sitaw, petchay (sauteed cabbage, string beans, bok choi) and the likes, then pinakbet and chop suey. I overcooked ‘em most of the time but nobody ever complained.

About A Dish, a Recipe that changed your foodie life
… it is pinakbet or pakbet. I love my dad’s version and as a young kid it’s one of the first dishes I cooked. How it affected my foodie life is a real biggie. First and foremost it is a melange of vegetables and spices – okra, squash, yard-long beans, aubergine, bittergourd, tomatoes, green chili, garlic and onions (the list can still go on). Sure the Ilocano way (well at least my 1st memories of pakbet) is to cook the veggies until shriveled but cooking the dish itself makes one understand each vegetable’s characteristics, when one isn’t scrumptious when overcooked, or that garlic has to be fried until brownish and aromatic, or that yard-long beans are better when crunchy. Pakbet has opened a new door for me and I eventually experimented with other vegetable recipes.

I remember asking my dad between sobs why I couldn’t help but cry every time I slice onions. Oh I don’t remember what he said but he told me to wash the onions before slicing and to hold my breath while doing it. Bakit nga ba nakakaiyak? Here’s why.

I remember how I’d throw up every time I try to eat okra. Though we were never tricked or bribed into eating vegetables, we had our share of hated ones. Okra used to be my kryptonite; my bro would never touch saluyot and my sis cringed at the thought of having ampalaya for lunch. But I fell in love with okra eventually. My love affair with the lady fingers (along with, uhmm, a lot of other things) started only a decade ago in Brunei.

I remember pretending to like saluyot to please my parents. Like the slimy okra, I hated it so much. I still do, I swear.

I remember I was so much in love with ampalaya. It wasn’t love at first bite but how amused was I to see the horror on my sister’s face while I feasted on my favorite ampalaya con carne.

Funny how time flies. Now it’s my son’s turn to say “Oh my gulay! Gulay na naman!” as sauteed veggies and stir-fry recipes save our tummies when I have so little time for cooking during busy days. Lucky me, my son do love veggies especially the leafy ones. If not, making him understand the importance of eating vegetables can be a true parenting challenge. (The photo to your right shows him with broccoli and caulli flower stir-fry.)

So let me share a variation of Ampalaya con Carne. Back home, pork has always been the meat we add to this dish though it does taste better with beef. Another way is Chinese-style, a stir-fry with ginger and with cornstarch to thicken the sauce. Here is a stir-fry recipe that is lasang pinoy with tomatoes. With regards to the bitterness, I no longer follow the roll-the-ampalaya-on-salt thingy anymore. My sister’s tip (actually, from her house-help who apparently had ampalaya almost everyday): just drop the slices into the pan and simmer without stirring. Oh you’d be surprised how well it works!

1/4 kilo lean pork, cut into strips
ampalaya, cut length-wise, de-seed, then cut diagonally into strips
5-6 tbsp of crushed garlic
1 large onion, sliced
1 large tomato, chopped
soy sauce
1 tsp corn starch
salt and pepper

Combine 5 tbsp of soy sauce, a little salt and pepper in a bowl. Add the pork strips to coat and marinate for 30 minutes or more. In another bowl, mix 1/2 cup of water with a pinch of salt, a dash of pepper, cornstarch and about 3 tbsp of soy sauce. Mix well and set aside.

Heat oil in a pan over medium to high heat. Throw in the pork strips and stir-fry for about 3 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add little oil to the pan and heat again. Stir-fry garlic until aromatic. Add in the onion and tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes are mashed and juicy. Pour 1/2 cup of water and bring to boil. Adjust the taste with salt if necessary. Add the ampalaya slices and simmer without stirring until crisp-tender. Do not overcook. Scoop out the ampalaya slices and arranged in a platter. Return the cooked pork plus the reserved marinade mixture to the pan. Mix thoroughly and cook for about 30 seconds or until the sauce thickens. Pour over the ampalaya slices. Serve hot.

The Round-up!

Share on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page
I am not a professional cook. My only claim to having a culinary background is a short stint as my dad’s teen ‘sous chef’ in his carinderia ages ago. Dad ran small eateries since I was a young kid - serving standard ‘turo-turo’ food ranging from the likes of menudo, adobo, pritong isda, dinuguan, binagoongan, bopis, munggo, pinakbet and giniling to merienda fares like goto, ginataan, pancit bihon, halu-halo and saging con yelo.

My father, a farmer in his hometown before working his way to becoming an accountant, definitely influenced my cooking in a lot of ways than I thought. My siblings and I were raised in a backyard full of fruit trees and vegetable garden. We spent weekends and the summer breaks running around with ducks, chickens, goats and pigs. I had wonderful memories of gathering eggs, butchering chickens, selling vegetables and the sweet aroma of preserved fruits. But my love for art led me to a degree in Architecture. Just few months after getting my license, I went abroad and lived independently at age 23. Definitely no maid, no cook, and a totally different food culture. Along the way I met lots of friends and spent what seemed a lifetime learning new tricks and recipes.

Now living in Auckland, I am a work-from-home mum who juggles time between work, fun and family - in pursuit of work-life balance. No matter how busy I am, I love the idea of cooking for my family. My blog chronicles home cooking greatly influenced by life outside my home country from Southeast Asia to Beijing and Auckland. And most of the time, being busy also means easy (sometimes quick), affordable meals.

17 thoughts on “Lasang Pinoy 18 – Ampalaya Con Carne

  1. I too could not stand the sight of okra when I was younger. Must have been the slimyness! Your ampalaya con carne looks delicious.

  2. Hi Iska. Thanks for visiting my blog and reading my kwentong gulay. I appreciate your nice comments.

    I love your version of kwentong gulay. I’m amazed by how good you take photos. The photo of your son reaching for the plate of gulay is magnificent!

    I’m fond of eating pakbet and it’s one of my favorite dishes. Thanks for telling us some of your memorable veggie encounters. It must be nice to have a vegetable garden in your own backyard.

    I like the recipe you shared. It’s worth giving a try. But I have to be honest, I don’t cook. My husband is the “chef” in the house and I will pass the recipe to him. :)

    It was a pleasure meeting you through Toni’s LP 18.

  3. thanks for sharing this, so very interesting! i’m not an amplaya fan, too, pero i am trying to be a good example to my daughter so i have no choice but to eat it and look like i’m enjoying it, hehe.

    and yes, i draw the line with saluyot. :D

  4. We hate the same veggies, although I am happy for you that you overcame okra LOL.
    I eat ampalaya, at least not with abhorrence hehe. So i might jsut try this one. Pero konti lang, i’m sure ako lang kasi kakain nyan!

  5. That ampalaya looks so yummy, it may actually convince me to eat said veggie! Seeing it with pork strips makes it look yummier the ones with ground beef.

    Oh, and about onions, other than holding your breath, keeping a lighted candle near your onion also helps. Or chopping onions near an open stove, since the fire dissipates the fumes before the reach your nose.

  6. @Marvin: Definitely… it’s too slimy I threw up. Don’t know how I managed to overcome the fear factor hehehehe How I love okra now and I’m doomed, can’t find it here in Beijing.

    @Rach: Thank you, too, for dropping by. I’m glad you like the photos. I only have my ever-steady hands to thank for that. :-)

    Actually, we also had a backyard full of fruit trees but it’s all gone now. My folks sold the property a long time ago but the memories will remain forever. Maybe you’d like to read some of my posts about our old backyard:

    I hope you’d enjoy the recipe as much as I do. And yes… It’s nice meeting you tru Toni!

    @Anne: I’ve tried it so many times already, even in pinakbet and it really works. Hope it’ll work for you, too, kung hindi… naka-tsamba lang pala ako! :D

    @Ajay: I was taking picture of the food… gusto nya extra sya. Hehehehe… Miss ko na din ang ampalaya with egg. Hindi ko kase ma-perfect. Hindi pwede ang drop-and-no-stirring technique ko dun I have to use the salt to get rid of the bitterness.

    @MrsPartyGirl: I ate saluyot a long, looooong time ago kahit na hindi kaya ng powers ko. Funny how kids would do that to please their parents. After sometime, iniwasan ko na ang saluyot. I eat the other gulay except that. In your case, you eat ampalaya to make your kiddo think it’s all right.

    @chateau: Bakit nga ba ang hirap magustuhan ang slimy okra and saluyot ? The bitter ampalaya has always been better for me. A friend of mine asked me to try okra a decade ago. I gave it another try after years of ignoring the slimy veggie and lo! Ang sarap pala nya! Try it again chateau… steamed or blanched with sawsawang alamang. Yummy!

    @ces: sister… try it! I’m sure kaya mo yan :-)

    @kaoko: Nahalata yata na madami ang pork strips ko just for my carnivore man! He eats very little ampalaya but funny he likes it with pinakbet.
    Thank you for the onion tip, Kaoko :-)

  7. I really miss ampalaya. Our ampalaya here is bitter..bitter and really bitter..hehehe. (ampalayang ligaw).So we cook pinakbet here w/o ampalaya.

  8. Iska,

    How cute naman nung pic ng anak mo! I must say I am not a fan of amplaya. The only time I eat it is when my mom makes it. Baka it’s time for me to try eh?

  9. Your lists of veggies are the ones i dont really like to eat at all. Okra and saluyot mainly because its so slimy and the ampalaya is just to bittter for my sweet taste buds.

    However i do love reading about your story on each of them.

    I love chop suey and eggplant.

  10. Hi Iska,

    I just happened to browse on this website since I’m looking for an ampalaya con carne recipe. As what others say from their responses, it looks yummy and maybe yummier when tastes. I printed it and will definitely try this one on dinner tonight, hihihi! By the way, I’ve read from the responses about a slimy okra, well here’s a tip, try to steam the okra by just putting it over the steaming rice, (of course, you have to wash it first and slice out those tips at ends). You just put over on the rice just the water had already sipped in. When steamed, its not slimy but a little crunchy. Its perfect together with a steamed talbos ng kamote and a grilled eggplant with salted egg as side dish. Ginisang alamang or ginisang bagoong balayan is a perfect sawsawan with sliced manggang hilaw or indian mango and a grilled tilapia. Uum, yum yum!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

CommentLuv badge