The fruit known as bitter melon or Goya in Okinawa or Nigauri in the rest of Japan looks a bit like a cucumber but with lots of bumps. It has many medicinal properties used in Ayurvedic medicine for over 3,000 years helping to maintain blood sugar,lower cholesterol and helping fight viruses and bacteria it helps in strengthening immunity it is also high in vitamins B,C,E and K .This fruit is very popular in Okinawa the southern most prefecture of japan and one of the worlds five blue zones ( where people live the longest) It must be an important fruit over there as they even have a day spent honouring it. People seam to use it in Japan to fight off summer heat fatigue and build up immunity for Autumn. Goya is a very aquired taste it didnt get its name bitter melon for nothing. After slicing it in half and scooping out the seeds and slicing some people soak the Goya in salted water or steam it. I have found it most palatable when soaked in hot water with a little mirin . So this is what I do to prepare it.
I wanted to make a classic favourite summer Okinawan dish called Champuru a stirfry that normally contains egg,tofu,Goya and pork or spam. Champuru means mixed . You could use a vegan meat substitute for this but after considering this I went for the whole vegetable option as most contain wheat .
I made an easy tofu scramble with mashed tofu and a little turmeric and nutritional yeast and set to one side. I used about 1/4 block then used the rest cut up into cubes and baked them in the oven ( you could stirfry these on fry them if you like but I wanted a healthy option.
I then sliced some oyster mushrooms and stir fried these in a little toasted sesame oil ( this was to be my pork substitute). Then I threw in my tofu scramble and drained sliced Goya but I didn’t rinse off the mirin as it adds a little sweetness I think. Stirfry this and then add your baked tofu.
Then add a teaspoon of miso paste to a bowl with a cup of kombu dashi stock and dissolve then pour this over your stirfry. Mix and your done. I served mine with simple Japanese rice.
An alternative recipe to this would be to make my tofu omelette recipe and cut into strips and use this as your egg substitute maybe with vegan bacon.