Ginisang Ampalaya is a Filipino stir-fried bitter melon sautéed in onion, garlic, tomato, pork or chicken, shrimp and egg white. Ampalaya is also known as bitter melon or bitter gourd.
For a delightful dish, one should know how to prepare Ampalaya to get rid of the bitterness.
It is a vine that grows in tropical and sub-tropical climate and it is believed that ampalaya is the most bitter of all vegetables.
There are 2 varieties of bitter melon, the Chinese and Indian variety.
They are often eaten green and the inner flesh and seeds are scraped out before cooking. The fruit, skin, young shoots and leaves are all edible.
The leaves are added in salad, stew, soup or tea. When cooking, it is best to keep the fruit crisp and crunchy. It will get soggy if over cooked.
When I was young, ampalaya is one vegetable that I never cared for. During dinner, both me and brother were either crying or just staring at our food.
Every time vegetable was served, my mom gave us portions knowing that we will never touch it. Today, it is one of my favorite healthy dish.
A former co-worker of mine and her husband loved to explore and try Asian vegetables and fruits. Whenever they visit the Asian market, her husband would insist that she asked me first before buying anything foreign to them.
One of the things they were curious about was the bitter melon since it was featured in Dr. Oz show. I told her not to buy it but instead I will make it and bring it to work.
To my surprised, she and her husband liked it. I also brought a couple of sliced uncooked ampalaya for them to try so they knew what I meant by bitter.
My mom made atchara and they loved that too, so she asked for both recipes.
Benefits of Ampalaya or Bitter Melon
Ampalaya or Bitter Melon is low in calorie and high in Vitamin A, C, K and antioxidants .
Health Benefits derived from consuming ampalaya are:
- Helps lower blood sugar levels
- Lowers bad cholesterol
- Enhances eye sight
- Promotes bone health
- Helps with digestion as it rich in dietary fibers
As you can see, it is high in essential nutrients that helps with major health issues. Thus, adding bitter melon to your diet is beneficial to your health.
Unfortunately, eating ampalaya is an acquired taste. People not familiar with this vegetable will despise the bitterness. Depending on the preparation, bitterness can be reduce.
In the recipe below, I have detailed instructions on how to reduce ampalaya's bitterness. Before learning this technique from my mom, I was doing it a different way.
After submerging it in warm water and salt, I would take a handful of bitter melon and squeezed the juice out of it. Sometimes the bitter taste was less, but it dawn on me that I’m squeezing out all the nutrients. Glad my mom showed me the right way of doing it.
How to Cook Ginisang Ampalaya with with Pork, Shrimp and Egg Recipe & Video
Ginisang Ampalaya with Pork, Shrimp and Egg
- 1 large ampalaya bitter melon, inner flesh & seeds removed
- 3 tablespoons cooking oil
- 1 medium onion sliced
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 2 medium tomato cut into cubes
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- ⅓ pound ground pork substitute chicken if you desire
- ½ pound shrimp peeled & deveined
- 2 egg whites beaten, optional
- 1 cup water or vegetable broth
- Season with salt or fish sauce if needed
How to Reduce Bitter Melon (Ampalaya) Bitterness
- Wash and cut bitter melon in half lengthwise.
- Remove the inner white flesh and seeds.
- Slice the bitter melon diagonally about ¼ inch thick.
- In a bowl, add 4 cups of warm water and 4 teaspoons of salt.
- Submerge the sliced bitter melon for about 30 minutes.
- Drain water and rinse well.
- Fry bitter melon about a minute or two on each side before sauteeing. Frying also helps in lessening bitterness and the same time it maintains its crisp texture.
Note: Before sauteeing, prepare the ampalaya. Follow the above instructions on “How to Reduce Bitter Melon Bitterness”. This is a must to enjoy this delicious healthy dish.
- Pour oil in pan over medium heat.
- First, saute onion for 3 minutes.
- Add garlic and cook for 3 minutes or until golden.
- Add tomato and cover pan.
- When tomato is soft, crush with a flat spoon and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Stir-in fish sauce.
- Toss-in pork and cook until pale.
- Add shrimp and saute for 2 to 3 minutes or until it turns orange.
- Pour 1 cup of water and let it boil and simmer for 3 minutes.
- Add fried ampalaya and stir for 30 seconds.
- Move all the ingredients to the side of pan. Slowly pour beaten egg white and stirring constantly so egg white doesn’t coagulate. Note: Egg white is optional if allergic to it.
- Season with salt or fish sauce, if needed.
- Serves 4 to 5 people. Enjoy!
2. You can use ampalaya leaves for monggo or sautéed ampalaya leaves.