gōya (ゴーヤ), nigauri
True to its name, the bitter melon is, indeed, bitter. It’s especially common in Cantonese and Indian cooking, although is also used in cuisines elsewhere in Asia.
The bitter melon’s appearance is distinctive in its warty texture, oblong shape, and vivid light green color.
For many cooking methods, it’s usually used when on the younger side of ripe. This gourd’s natural bitter flavor means it’s often blanched or salted before being incorporated in a dish to mellow its taste a bit. Also because of this, it’s generally served alongside other flavorful spices and ingredients that can help offset and pair well with its bitterness.
Just like other vine vegetables, bitter melon is used in tons of different ways, via tons of different cooking techniques. It can be stir-fried, braised, stuffed and fried, used in curries, used in soups, used in salads, grated, roasted, sauteed, pickled, ground… we could go on. Alongside its aforementioned usage in Cantonese and Indian cuisines, it’s also common in other South and Central Asian cuisines, in Southeast Asia, and Okinawa.
Uwajimaya carries bitter melon in our produce departments as well as other spices and ingredients that pair well throughout our stores.