October 16, 2013

Lazyass Cookin’: Goya Champuru

by Kayoko

I don’t know what’s going on in your neck of the woods, but what is going on with the weather in the Bay Area?!?!? We are experiencing really schizophrenic weather patterns — it will go from warm to cold in an instant.

Take today, Tuesday 10/15. It was quite chilly in the morning, then we were hit by a heat wave at noon. Oakland was sweating balls! We were hot and confused.

But it’s a great way to enjoy dishes that are meant for those HOT summer days. Goya, or bitter melon/gourd, is meant to cool your system down, so is typically eaten when it’s hot out. Goya champuru is a dish that originates from Okinawa, Japan, and is the perfect dish for a hot lazy day.

This recipe requires a bit more preparation than the usual Lazyass recipe, but overall, this dish is really easy to make. Trust me.

INGREDIENTS
2 medium goya
1/2 pound pork belly
1 block firm tofu
1 medium yellow onion
Shoyu
Katsuobushi (bonito flakes)
Optional: egg

METHOD

Now, goya is not for the faint of heart. To call it “bitter” is an understatement — when eaten raw, it tastes of metal and gunpowder. Why would you eat something that is so bitter, you ask? The bitterness of goya is so unique, and the crisp texture is extremely satisfying. There are a few tricks to undercut the bitterness, which is worth the extra 10 minutes.

1. Cut goya in half, lengthwise. Scoop out the soft white innards with a spoon.

2. Cut goya into thin slices. Soak in salt water for 10 minutes.

I also read that instead of soaking in water, you can rub goya pieces with salt and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. I did this as well as the soak.

3. Wrap your block of tofu in paper towels and put something heavy on it to take as much water out as possible. I leave the block on for as long as I can, but 20 minutes is fine. Cut into 1/2 inch pieces.

4. Gaze lovingly at your pork belly. It should be pretty thinly sliced and slightly salted. Slice onions too.

5. Heat up a pan with oil. Add the pork.

6. Add onions.

7. When onions and pork are cooked through, add goya and the tofu.

8. Once the goya and tofu are nicely cooked together with the pork, add a scrambled egg over the mix.

9. That’s it!

At this point, adjust the saltiness by adding some shoyu, as desired. Plate and sprinkle some katsuobushi over the dish.

I say that the egg is optional because I find that the scrambled egg texture is too similar to the tofu. So even though I LOVE eggs, I don’t think it’s necessary. Sort of like getting an egg with your soon doo bu (kimchi tofu stew) at a Korean restaurant — I always thought it was texturally redundant.

This dish is glorious. The crisp, bitterness from the goya cuts the fatty, salty pork so well. It’s trial and error to get the bitterness toned down, and I think that rubbing the goya with salt as I did in the beginning was more helpful than simply soaking it.

Serve with a hot bowl of rice and an ice cold beer. Enjoy!

2 Comments

  • Julian
    Posted October 16, 2013 at 10:45 am

    Bacon is also an easy substitute and I like to use a little dashinomoto for seasoning. Egg is a definite must for me! Just like my Okinawan mom taught me :)

  • Kayoko
    Posted October 17, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    Julian, yes, I read about the dashinomoto! I didn’t add any here, but I certainly will next time. Ok, I’ll stick with the egg. I hope to have this dish in Okinawa someday!

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