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Bitter Goya

Ewa Nowogorski

Goya is probably in my top 5 list of foods that I can absolutely not stomach. Also known as bitter melon, it is a green rough vegetable with extremely bitter seeds. There are many varieties and the shape and size can widely vary, but it usually has very rough and bumpy skin. This food originated in India and somehow became popularly grown in southern parts of Japan in the past, with it now being popular everywhere. As its English name suggests, bitter melon is extremely bitter.

Goya is sometimes eaten in salads, but it is most famously used in a stir fry dish called chanpuru. This dish was created and  is most commonly eaten in Okinawa and other southern areas in Japan, but you can easily make this dish on your own because of its simple and common ingredients. It commonly consists of goya, spam, egg, and meat or fish. For a meat lover, this might be an interesting dish to try. But beware of the bitter taste that will linger in your mouth as you chew the crunchy goya bits.

I didn’t believe my friends when they told me that goya is terrible. I was more inclined to believe the Japanese acquaintances I had, who claimed that goya was actually delicious. I bought some goya for the first time after living in Japan for almost 4 years, and simply boiled it well until soft. Boiling the vegetable or rubbing it in salt and sugar is said to remove most of the bitterness, but it did not work for me. The boiled goya was still bitter.

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