This tahong dish looks really yummy! Might not be true if you’re a bitter hater. The enticing leaves you see are bitter ampalaya shoots, talbos. The taste is even bitter than ampalaya fruits.
Ampalaya, bitter gourd, is a vine plant. It need support for its growth. Farmers build a horizontal treillage (balag) to provide sturdy support. The height is about six feet and may vary depending on farmer’s height. My father is rather short so he tend to build a lower balag.
Not all ampalaya shoots are harvested for sale. In fact, bitter gourd is grown for its fruits, not for its shoots. All ampalaya leaves from stem base and before it reaches the balag are removed. I never know what is the purpose. Shoots grow about 12 inches above the ground and before it reaches the balag. Those shoots are harvested and sold. A farmer can only harvest large quantity of talbos ng ampalaya if he has a wide plantation area.
Now lets deal with the yummy bitter dish.
Gather all the ingredients:
1/2 kilogram tahong, be sure there is no RED TIDE SCARE before buying
2 gloves garlic, minced
3 onion bulbs, sliced
one thumb size ginger, sliced
3 tomatoes, crunchy ripe, sliced
1/4 kilogram talbos ng ampalaya
1 cup water
Follow the cooking procedures:
1) Wash tahong thoroughly. Removed all adhering dirt with a sharp knife. According to my neighbors, mussel storage even in refrigerator and freezer is not recommended. Rinse other veggie ingredients in running water.
2) Saute onions, garlic, ginger and tomatoes for fifteen minutes over low flame. A regular fast saute can be done alternatively.
3) Add tahong and water and bring to boil for five minutes.
4) Add patis (fish sauce) to taste.
5) Drop ampalaya shoots. Continue boiling for 30 seconds and remove from flame immediately.