Bitter Delight: Filipino Recipes To Savor Your Ampalaya

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Bitter melon, also known as ampalaya in Filipino cuisine, might not be the most aesthetically pleasing vegetable, but don’t let its bumpy exterior fool you. This tropical gourd boasts a unique bitter flavor that adds depth and complexity to Filipino dishes. Once you learn how to prepare it properly, bitter melon can become a delightful addition to your culinary repertoire.

This guide dives into the world of Filipino bitter melon recipes, exploring its versatility and offering foolproof methods for incorporating it into your meals. We’ll delve into the ingredients, cooking instructions, and nutritional information for three popular Filipino bitter melon dishes:

Ginisang Ampalaya Recipe
Ginisang Ampalaya Recipe

Sinigang na Ampalaya (Sour Soup with Bitter Melon)

  • Pinakbet (Vegetable Stew with Bitter Melon)
  • Ampalaya Frittters

  • Ingredients You’ll Need:

    Pantry Staples:

    Vegetable oil

  • Soy sauce
  • Fish sauce (patis)
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Tomatoes
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

  • Fresh Produce:

    Bitter melon (choose firm, green ones)

  • Pork belly (or other protein of your choice)
  • Shrimp (optional)
  • Green beans
  • Eggplant
  • Okra
  • Tamarind (or tamarind paste)
  • Eggs (for fritters)
  • Flour (for fritters)

  • Optional Ingredients:

    Shrimp paste (bagoong)

  • Kangkong (water spinach)
  • Malunggay leaves (moringa)

  • Cooking Up a Storm:

    1. Sinigang na Ampalaya:

    This sour and savory soup is a Filipino classic. Here’s how to make it:

    1. Prepare the bitter melon: Slice the bitter melon in half lengthwise. Scrape out the white flesh and seeds with a spoon. Slice the melon thinly.
    2. Sauté the aromatics: Heat oil in a pot and sauté garlic and onions until fragrant.
    3. Add protein and vegetables: Add your chosen protein (pork belly, shrimp, etc.) and cook until browned. Add green beans, eggplant, and bitter melon slices. Briefly stir-fry.
    4. Create the sour broth: Add water, tamarind or tamarind paste, and bring to a boil. Season with fish sauce, salt, and pepper to taste. Let simmer until vegetables are tender.
    5. Serve: Enjoy your sinigang with a side of rice and a dollop of bagoong (optional).

    2. Pinakbet:

    This hearty vegetable stew features a variety of Filipino favorites, including bitter melon. Here’s the process:

    1. Blanch the bitter melon: Slice the bitter melon thinly and blanch it in boiling water for a few minutes to reduce bitterness. Drain and set aside.
    2. Sauté the base: Heat oil in a pot and sauté garlic and onions until softened.
    3. Add protein and vegetables: Add your chosen protein (pork belly is common) and cook until browned. Add green beans, eggplant, okra, and blanched bitter melon.
    4. Create the savory broth: Pour in fish sauce and water. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then simmer until vegetables are tender.
    5. Finishing touches: Add shrimp paste (optional) for extra flavor. Thicken the stew slightly with a cornstarch slurry if desired.
    6. Serve: Enjoy pinakbet with rice and a fried egg on top.

    3. Ampalaya Fritters:

    These crispy fritters are a fun and tasty way to enjoy bitter melon. Here’s what to do:

    1. Prepare the batter: In a bowl, whisk together eggs, flour, water, a pinch of salt, and a dash of pepper.
    2. Prep the bitter melon: Slice the bitter melon thinly and blanch it for a few minutes to reduce bitterness. Drain and pat dry.
    3. Heat the oil: Heat oil in a pan over medium heat.
    4. Dip and fry: Dip the bitter melon slices in the batter and carefully add them to the hot oil. Fry until golden brown and crispy. Drain on paper towels.
    5. Serve: Enjoy ampalaya fritters hot with your favorite dipping sauce, like vinegar with soy sauce or spicy chili garlic sauce.

    Nutritional Powerhouse:

    Bitter melon is a surprisingly nutritious vegetable. Here’s a glimpse at the nutritional breakdown (per 100g serving):

    Calories: 20

  • Carbohydrates: 4g
  • Fiber: 2.5g
  • Vitamin C: 80mg (133% DV)
  • Vitamin A: 280 IU (6% DV)
  • Iron: 0.4mg (2% DV)