Sauted bitter melon and eggs is a popular Filipino dish, normally served for breakfast. So, I thought. My housemate's mum cooked the same dish to my surprise so I'm changing my stance from Filipino dish to Asian dish. This dish might be an acquired taste because the bitter melon as it's name, tastes actually bitter. Once you get used to it though, it's quite tasty.
Sydney food photographer here and today's breakfast is bitter melon, bitter gourd or for us Filipinos—ampalaya is a vegetable that is popular amongst Asian countries. There are many ways to cook this vegetable for today dish—a simple sauted bitter melon and eggs.
Bitter melons are well like it's name, bitter. Some people soak it in water for a couple of hours and juice it a little to get rid of it's bitter taste. Of course it's nutrients goes with it as well. So it's probably better just to cook it and eat with out pre-preps.
Bitter melon notably contains phyto-nutrient, polypeptide-P, a plant insulin known to lower blood sugar levels. In addition, it composes hypoglycemic agent called charantin. Charantin increases glucose uptake and glycogen synthesis inside the cells of liver, muscle and adipose tissue. Together, these compounds have been thought to be responsible for reduction of blood sugar levels in the treatment of type-2 diabetes. Whilst we are on topic of goodness, such as, fibre, minerals, vitamins and anti-oxidants.
Cooking bitter melon and eggs is very simple. You mainly saute bitter melon with onions and tomatoes and add eggs last. In my case, I've skipped the rest of the ingredients. I've skipped onions and tomatoes and simply sauted bitter melon and then add in the eggs after.
Photographing the ingredients
The image above is the ingredients I used to make this dish. Very simple isn't? Eggs and Bitter melon and of course a little bit of oil and you are done. I wanted to show how raw ingredients before showing the final dish. Taking photos of the ingredients posed one problem for me. This was shadows and I thought it needed to be addressed.
When I cooked this dish for breakfast, I had a good natural light. I usually use artificial light in all of my photography, especially food photography because it's easier to control the light. You can call me a control freak but considering, photography is painting with light, then you can assume, why not create an environment where you have full control of all the lighting instead of working with the current light you have and work around it?
It's not to say, that I haven't tried it, because I did on this photo. As you can see from the image above. That photo was done via natural light. As I looked through the cameras review. I didn't like it. It had darker shadow toward the left of the image. I wanted a little more light in that area and I had no reflectors to use. The only other option I had was to place one flash on the left to remove the shadows and the image below shows just that.
However, after downloading the image to my computer and looking at the image more closely. The unwanted shadows actually added more depth and story to the photo. The photo where I used a flash to remove those shadows became bland and somewhat boring!
Photographing the final dish
The final dish was rather simple. Armed with natural light as my main source of light and artificial light fill in light, I took the photo of the final dish. It so turns out, as I took the photo tightly, I found I did not need the fill in light after all. There was no difference to the shadows. In fact, using the artificial simple blew the image away and by turning it off and sticking to natural light, it worked like a treat.