As I look through any additional information about Bitter Melons, or Ampalaya as Tagalogs call it(Amargoso or Marigoso to some, in Bicol), I just realized how valuable this fruit vegetable is. According to medical information(check webmd.com, etc.), one bitter melon is rich in vitamins, A & C, B-6, Magnesium, Iron and Potassium. Also called as bitter gourd, Ampalaya(Sautéed Bitter Melon) fruits and seeds are also used to make medicine. It’s a good source to fight Diabetes.

This fruit, being as amazingly bitter as it is, is considered one of the staple foods in many Asian dishes. As Filipinos, we have this served occassionaly on our dinner tables. We cook it in many ways; in coconut milk as one example, and sauteed, like what Millie did with her Ginisang Ampalaya(Sautéed Bitter Melon) with chicken.

Ingredients: 3-4 servings

3 fresh ampalaya fruits
2 boneless chicken breasts, sliced
2 large, sliced tomatoes
1/2 medium, sliced onion
2 cloves, minced garlic
1 tsp bagoong alamang(shrimp paste)
2 tbsp. cooking oil
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup water

Cooking Procedure:

  1. Wash and cut ampalaya in halves. Scoop the seeds off using a spoon, then slice them in fairly thin sizes.
  2. Pour sufficient amount of water on a deep bowl. Apply 1-2 tsp of salt. Wisk salt until melted. Immerge sliced ampalaya(bitter melon) into the salted water. Leave amplaya immerged in salted water to soak in for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Squeeze the juice out of ampalaya while immerged in salted water. This will remove a portion of the bitterness from the fruit. Not completely, but it will help minimize its bitter taste.
  4. Remove the bitter gourd from immersion, place them on a large strainer and rinse off excess salt through running water. Set it aside.
  5. Place the bagoong(shrimp paste) on a strainer. Wash off excess salt from it through a running water.
  6. On a heated pan, add cooking oil and start sautéing minced garlic, sliced onions and tomatoes. Stir to thoroughly combine ingredients. Add the sliced chicken and bagoong alamang(shrimp paste) then stir to combine for 5-10 minutes.
  7. Add the bitter melon slices and stir to evenly combine with the first ingredients. Smash tomato slices to soak well with the gourd. It will also help neutralize its bitter taste.
  8. Add water to allow ampalaya to cook well. Let it simmer for 5-8 while stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper.(Add salt only if needed. Remember that shrimp paste is already added and that it’s high in salt).
  9. Continue to stir occasionally, to thoroughly combine ingredients until ampalaya and chicken are cooked. Remove from the heat when done. Serve Ginisang Ampalya with steamed rice and enjoy!

Tip: Serve it for breakfast with fried rice, fried daing(dried fish) and a cup of hot coffee, or dinner with Fried Galungggong(Mackerel). Sarap!

Sauteed Ampalaya(Bitter Melon) with Eggs