Friday, April 17, 2009

etegami and the 5 senses (touch)

This is a drawing of a bitter melon, one of the bitterest vegetables cultivated for human consumption. Very nutritious though. And a taste you can get hooked on. We eat a lot of it in the summer when the heat drags us down and makes us lose our appetites. The exterior of this oblong vegetable is deep green and extremely warty. Most of the bitter melons we get around here have been shipped from way down south in Okinawa or thereabouts, and I never saw one when I was growing up in northern Japan. Nowadays you can find them in any Japanese supermarket, and almost everyone has seen, touched, and tasted one at least once. Unlike the spiky bumps on a just-picked cucumber, the round and oblong bumps on a bitter melon are smooth to the touch, and they cover the vegetable thickly and completely. I tried to convey the texture of the bumps, but it was a difficult challenge.


  1. You did a great job, Deb! Well, you always do! The textures of the bumps are really good. Although, the amapalaya i'm used to are the smoother ones, well it does have the "warty" look still. I knew what this was the moment i saw it. I use to buy them at specialty stores but i see them at some local grocery stores now a days. We love ampalaya (bittermelon)there are a lot of Filipino dishes using bittermelon. I love them as a salad and stir fry w/ eggs. How do you cooks yours?

  2. I follow the Okinawa tradition of stir-frying it with tofu, bean sprouts, scrambled egg, and pork of some kind. Never had it as a salad. You don't eat it raw, do you?

  3. No, there are 2 ways to make them into a salad. One is to quick blanch them w/ boiling water or rub and squeeze them w/ salt then rinse. I do the later, i like the crunch. The bittermelon we use is the smoother version and less bitter than the ones who have. Then marinade them w/ vinegar, salt, ginger, onions or scallions, tomatoes, garlic and chili if you want. This is almost always served as sidedish for anything fried. I personally like it w/ fried fish.