Bitter heart…

I remember when I was teaching and staying in Kanowit in the late 70’s up to the early 80’s, I did not do any cooking in Β the first two years when I was staying in a little room/cubicle above one of the shophouses in town. Then they completed the first housing estate in the town – the Kanowit Garden…and I was able to rent the upper floor of a terrace house, sharing with a colleague of mine and I stayed there for the next three years.

We were teaching in the afternoon as we were squatting at the premises of a primary school and they had their lessons in the morning…and every morning, I would have to go to town to buy things to cook and eat for the day. We did not have a refrigerator so the marketing had to be done daily and I had to do all my cooking on a kerosene stove provided. It was all right and we got along fine, no problem at all.

I remember, however, that sometimes we would not be able to get fresh meat so I would used some of the canned stuff as an ingredient when I fried vegetables…and that was perfectly all right too. The food tasted fine and we always enjoyed our meals and had our fill before going to school to teach…and heating up the leftovers when we came back to finish everything off for dinner. We did not have any fridge, remember?

Well, just the other day, I found half a bitter gourd in the fridge and I had a little bit of SPAM left so I decided to use that to cook the vegetable. Somehow that reminded me of what I used to do during those good ol’ days when I was in Kanowit – using canned meat to cook vegetables.

These were the ingredients I used:


– bitter gourd and a fresh chili, both thinly sliced, garlic, finely chopped and SPAM,. cut into little cubes.

I heated a bit of oil in the wok and fried the garlic till golden brown…


…and then I added the SPAM…


…and fried it for a while before adding the chili and the bitter gourd…

Chili & veg

I added a little bit of water to cook the bitter gourd but just a bit – there wasn’t any need for a lot as I had sliced the vegetable till very thin so it would cook very fast and very easily.

I added a bit of salt and msg, according to taste, and once all the moisture had dried up, I broke an egg into the wok…


Finally, I mixed everything together and stirred till the egg was cooked…


…before I scooped everything out and served it in a plate…

STP's fried bitter gourd with SPAM

Was it nice? Well,I must say that it was…but if you do not wish to use canned meat, you can always substitute it with prawns or sliced fresh meat. That would be just as nice as well, I’m sure…

Author: suituapui

Ancient relic but very young at heart. Enjoys food and cooking...and travelling and being with friends.

29 thoughts on “Bitter heart…”

  1. hey .. a very good morning to you! It is 12.32am now and I am still actively up and about… cannot sleep la.. so come by here to look for food! hahaha…
    Not many people like bitter gourd but I love it! My mom boils soup with this, cooling for our bodies, she said… but i prefer it to be cooked like this.. dried prawns or chicken meat…

    Ya, can cut rings and stuff minced meat in the middle and boil or steam. I don;t really like it that way as it gets very soft and soggy. Woudl rather have it fried.

    1. I don’t like those that is too bitter. It lower blood pressure due to the bitterness?

      Heard ppl say the bittergourd that hv more “wrinkles” ismore bitter.

      Those with very broad ridges and not so green – not bitter at all. Others say slice and soak in salt water. This one, no need. Memang not bitter.

  2. i have a berry weird palate. i loves bitter gourd and celery but detest coriander, parsley and all those smelly leaves =.= while all my other family members love them to bits =.=

    i likey my bitter gourd with some minced meat and egg! i have been cutting down processed food whenever i can. i don’t wanna die young :/

    Ya…and canned meat is so expensive these days and I’m not talking about the imported ones. Even the local-made ones, I can’t afford to buy. Ridiculous.

  3. My grand parents have an electrical white goods store in Kanowit. I used to go to Kanowit during school holiday. What a nice little town it is. I followed my grandmother to do the daily shopping in the morning and there are fresh water prawns, all sort of exotic fresh water fish, wild vegetable etc. I used to tell my grandmother that I don’t want to eat wild grass when she cooked the midim.

    I wonder which shop that would be. I am pretty sure I would know them…and perhaps members of the family would remember me as the “sinseh” who taught there long time ago. I wonder if I taught any of them. Loved the town, wouldn’t mind staying there but after I got married, I asked for a transfer back to Sibu.

    1. My grandfather surname is Lee. Can’t remember the shop name. I did remember that there are fridge, colour TV and even Sony Walkman at that time.

      I can think of one – the son was very handsome and the daughter studying the school across the river was very pretty…or was that a watch shop now? Hah!!! My memory, not so good anymore. Then there was another shop, nearer to the river but that one sold SINGER products. I think there was a hotel above it, the SAKURA. Gosh! That was so long ago…

  4. Brilliant and vivid photos! I love it! πŸ™‚

    Bitter gourd is surprisingly one of the few vegetables that I enjoy eating. It looks really good.

    I like it like how you cook it – dry, not wet with gravy. Nice! πŸ™‚

    Thanks, Huai Bin. I don’t like it wet…and overcooked, soft and soggy. Nicer when green and crunchy like this.

  5. Not bad, Arthur! Your bitter gourd was nicely done and it looks really good. Colorful dish too.

    Yes, when it’s colourful, it can be more appetising. Can’t stand veg that’s overcooked and pale…or worse, black!

  6. Some prawns n meat also nice…
    Omelette bitter gourd is also nice…

    Yes, many different ways to cook bitter gourd – most are nice, if not all…just that this post is on using canned meat to cook vegetables – the way I used to a long time ago.

  7. wow, that looks very delicious.. the one cooked at my home doesn’t come with the spam and chili.. just pure bittergourd and egg.. or sometimes salted egg.. taste nice when it’s simpler too.. πŸ™‚

    Yes, less can sometimes me more. Watch out for my coming post on that. It was just that I had a bit of SPAM left, not enough for a dish on its own and I decided to use it like this.

  8. oooo, i’m not a fan of bitter gourds.. had some of it a couple of times at food reviews. Still don’t really fancy it. Some people really love it truly madly deeply though πŸ™‚

    I did not like it before but now I do! Ever since I fell in love with the one fried with salted egg at a restaurant here. Nice!!!

  9. hello, that’s one of my favourite dish πŸ˜€ I used to hate it but as I grow older (maybe 2 years older) I started to love bitter gourds and eggplant πŸ˜€ Especially bitter gourds with egg or salted egg πŸ˜€

    Same here. I would eat but I would not say that I liked it no matter how it was cooked…but once I tried it fried with salted eggs at a restaurant here, I was hooked…and gradually, I started to like it fried in any other way. Still, not a fan of the boiled or steamed ones though I may eat as well.

  10. I’m sure your dish tastes as good as it looks. =) I must try to slip in some pieces of meat when I’m cooking bitter gourd again. I used to be one of those who despised the taste and would run away from it until someone gave me a plate of bitter gourd cooked with garlic and egg.

    Not having a fridge could be a good thing because one must finish up everything before the day comes to an end. But I really think that leftover meals is good at times as it is convenient. Throw a couple of ingredients together, whack it in the oven or cook it over the stove and a meal has been created. =)

    Ya…cooking isn’t as much a problem as having to go out every day to buy and not being able to keep the leftovers. My missus would cook a lot and we would eat that over a few days… I would prefer to deep freeze in servings though and heat up one after sometime at regular intervals instead of eating the same thing two or three days in a row. I would try to finish it all by the 2nd or 3rd day so I would not have to go on eating the same thing much longer…which is also bad as I may end up eating more than I should. 😦

  11. A thousand apologies for my silence. It has been hectic days lately.

    SPAM again? Wah anything cooked with spam or bacon has got to be nice πŸ˜‰ your dish reminded me of the uni days where my uni mate would cook spam with eggs and paprika over a dangerously flimsy makeshift rod heater. We had it with rice in the dorm room and my pillow case and bedsheet would smell of spam for a long time after! Wahahaha

    Welcome back. Gosh, you room must be very small or you never opened your windows. LOL!!! Like when I cook breakfast in the early morning with all the windows closed. The whole house would smell of whatever I would be cooking. πŸ˜‰

  12. ehm…your blog title should be Bitter Spam πŸ˜›

    For one thing, bitter gourd isn’t bitter anymore these days…and Spam isn’t exactly good for the heart. LOL!!! πŸ˜€

  13. Looking back at the good ol times, though we have minimal stuffs, life was pretty good then. Kids these days, tell them to cook using kerosene, they’ll freak out and rather go out eat burger!

    I’m sure many can’t cook rice without a rice cooker – will end up uncooked or become porridge…. I sure am glad my mum taught me when I was small. πŸ˜‰

  14. Luckily I read this before dinner…. Else I will scramble for a burger at mcd to cure my hunger pangs.

    You see veg and you go and eat a burger? Gee!!!! ^.^ LOL!!!!

  15. Bitter gourd is one of least favourite vegetables. I’d avoid them at all cost. Haha. I just can’t take its bitter taste although I could drink some chinese medical herbs which are bitter…

    Times have changed. Bitter gourd is not bitter, chili is not spicy hot, Dayak brinjal is not sour…etc…etc….etc. Tsk! Tsk!

  16. wow. yup! must start with the garlic to make it smells nice! well my mum always make it half raw, which is bitter for me. =(

    Buy those with broad ridges – they’re not bitter. Very nice if not overcooked and still crunchy.

  17. Oh, hassle free receipe. My favourite vege and I used to cook it that way.

    Not with canned meat, I’m sure. I usually don;t…unlike bachelor days in Kanowit but that day, I had a bit of Spam left, did not want to waste it.

  18. Ahh…very nice. Have you tried using salted duck egg with bitter gourd?

    Yes, my missus does that quite often…ever since we fell in love with it after eating it at a restaurant here sometime ago.

  19. If you think you want something more sinful..try using a salted egg next time. Heavenly…but you got to work out a bit after that.hahahhaha

    We use salted egg quite frequently…ever since we ate that at Ruby. My daughter would never touch bitter gourd but after eating it there, she loves it now!

  20. We hardly had this at home, no one like, but i am ok with it. I remember when i first try to cook this, i scare it taste bitter, i add little sugar in it.

    I like braised bitter gourd with chicken or pork and put llittle dark soya sauce it taste as good.

    Braised? Never had that before. Has masak lemak Malay-style…and steamed or in soup but I prefer it fried.

  21. You always find a way to include your favorite luncheon meat, don’t you? hehe

    Not really. So happened that I had a bit left over – no point letting that go to waste, eh? πŸ˜‰

All opinions expressed in my blog are solely my own, that is my prerogative - you may or may not agree, that is yours. To each his/her own. For food and other reviews, you may email me at

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