When you visit the Philippines, you will undoubtedly see fruits and vegetables that you are not accustomed to in your country if you are a Westerner. One vegetable in particular will appear very strange looking. It is shaped like a large cucumber. It has many bumps like melted wax on a candle. It is called “ampalaya” in the Philippines. The English word for it is bitter gourd.

Yes, it is not an attractive looking vegetable. Yes, it tastes bitter, especially if you don’t prepare it properly. Yes, we eat it here. Yes, it is tasty. Yes, it is really good for your health. Research has shown that ampalaya helps with diabetes. You can read more about that in this research report here:  https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40495-016-0045-2.

Now, let’s proceed to making a popular dish here in the Philippines called Ginisang Ampalaya.

You will need the following ingredients:

  • Ampalaya, 2 or 3
  • Tomatoes, 3 or 4
  • Onion, 1
  • Garlic, 3 cloves
  • Eggs, 3 or 4
  • Coconut oil, 1 tablespoon
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste

Here is how to prepare the ampalaya so it will be less bitter. This step is really important for an enjoyable dish.

  1. Cut the ampalaya into big chunks. Use a spoon to remove the core of seeds. You should be left with just the hollow hole.
  2. Wet the ampalaya chunks then rub salt on the outside and the inside of the vegetable tube.
  3. Let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes on a plate or cutting board.

While the ampalaya is being treated with salt, slice the tomatoes and onion. Mince the garlic. Beat the eggs like you are going to make scrambled eggs.

Rinse the ampalaya so that you will remove the salt. Slice it into thin wedges.

Using a wok or frying pan, heat the coconut oil.  Add the onions and saute it for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Add the ampalaya and saute for 5 minutes. Season with salt. Move the ampalaya to the side of the wok to make a hole in the middle of the wok. Add the  eggs. Let it cook for about 3 minutes. Add some salt to the eggs.  Then mix the eggs up by stirring it quickly. Mix it up with the ampalaya. Add the tomatoes and mix it up with the ampalaya and the eggs. Stir fry for 3 more minutes.

Serve it hot with rice. Yummy and good for you!

About Maria

Maria Peña is people connector. She created Real Pinay to connect foreigners with authentic Filipinas for friendship, romance, and perhaps even marriage.





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