What Is Ampalaya or Bitter Melon?
In Tagalog, bitter melon or bitter gourd is called ampalaya. This vine vegetable, Momordica charantia, is commonly grown in Asia and looks like a cucumber with ridges. It's green and bitter in taste yet popular in Asian cuisine. In this recipe, I'll show you how to eliminate the bitter taste.
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- 1 large ampalaya (bitter melon)
- 1/2 cup cooked, shelled prawns, chopped
- 1 large tomato, diced
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Wash the bitter melon.
- Cut off the ends of the bitter melon and then slice it lengthwise (refer to the second photo above).
- Using a grapefruit spoon, scoop out and discard the white seeds and pulp that are inside the bitter melon.
- Cut the bitter melon crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices.
- Dissolve 1 tablespoon of salt in a bowl of water. Then soak the bitter melon slices in the bowl of water for 30 minutes. (This technique eliminates the bitterness of the bitter melon).
- Drain the bitter melon slices in a colander and rinse them under running water to remove the salt.
- Heat oil in a pan and sautee the garlic, onion, and tomatoes for about 4-5 minutes.
- Add the bitter melon slices and sautee for 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the beaten eggs and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Add the cooked, chopped shrimp and stir for about 1-2 minutes. Add more salt and pepper if needed.
- Use other meats such as beef or pork instead of shrimp.
- Omit the shrimp for a vegetarian dish.
- Use fish sauce instead of salt.
- For a more stew-like dish, add 3/4 cup water in step 8.