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4 Best Filipino Recipes With Bitter Melon Ampalaya

by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  October 21, 2022

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Check out our latest recipes with bitter melon or “ampalaya”. These dishes are not only tasty but also packed with nutrients that are great for your health.

You might know it as bitter gourd, but the vegetable is the same and here’s how to best use it.

Best recipes with ampalaya bitter melon

17 Easy Recipes Anyone Can Make

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Best 4 Filipino recipes with ampalaya bitter melon

Ampalaya with Alamang

Ampalaya with Alamang
Ampalaya with Alamang, A low-cost meal that is good for the family. Sauteed Bitter Gourd with Salty Shrimp Relish (Alamang).
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Ampalaya with Alamang

Ampalaya with Alamang contains the aggregate of bitter flavor from the gourd and the taste of the shrimp and a perfect treat for someone who has an inclination towards eating foods with a very strong kick.

Bagoong alamang or “Ginamos” (in Western Visayas) is Filipino for shrimp paste, made from minute shrimp or krill (alamang), and is commonly eaten as a topping on green mangoes or used as a major cooking ingredient.

Fried fish dinengdeng

Fried fish dinengdeng recipe
This dinengdeng with fried fish recipe uses a savory bagoong monamon sauce to add even more fishy flavor to the tasty vegetable broth.
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a bowl of dinengdeng

The key to a good dinengdeng is in the broth, which is made with rice wash water. Adding lots of veggies will make the broth flavorful, and the fried fish will add a nice crunch.

Although you can make dinengdeng with fried or grilled fish, this recipe uses fried fish because I feel like it adds extra flavor. Plus, the crispiness balances out the mushiness of the leafy greens!

Pinakbet or simply “pakbet”

Pinakbet or simply “pakbet” recipe
In the Philippines, the Ilocanos are well-known for preparing the best pinakbet. The versatility of this pinakbet recipe makes it a very good complementary dish to fried foods like pork chops, fried chicken, or even barbequed meats.
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Pinakbet Recipe

Pinakbet (also called “pakbet”) is a very popular vegetable dish. This is a medley of vegetables that are locally grown in Filipinos’ backyards.

It’s cooked by sauteing vegetables and then flavoring with bagoong alamang or fermented shrimp paste and some fish sauce or patis.

It’s sometimes topped and garnished with crumbled pork crackling (or chicharon), bagnet, and even fried fish!

There’s something so satisfying about eating a bowl of warm, flavorful pinakbet with some steamed rice. The combination of different textures and tastes in every bite is just heavenly!

Paksiw na bangus

Paksiw na bangus recipe (vinegar fish stew)
Paksiw na bangus is cooked with vegetables, such as eggplant and bitter gourd (or ampalaya). To avoid the bitterness of the ampalaya mixing in with the paksiw na bangus sauce, don't stir it until the end.
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Paksiw na Bangus Recipe

Paksiw na bangus is also referred to as “milkfish stewed in vinegar.” Filipinos just love cooking their main dishes in vinegar!

Paksiw is a way of cooking fish with water and vinegar, garlic, ginger, salt, peppercorns, finger chilies, or siling pang sinigang.

Some regions prefer their versions of paksiw with sauce, while others reduce the sour mixture and cook it until it’s almost dry.

The kind of fish that’s usually used in making paksiw is bangus or milkfish. The freshness of the bangus makes a huge difference in cooking this paksiw na bangus recipe.

Best recipes with ampalaya bitter melon (1)

4 Best Recipes With Bitter Melon Filipino Ampalaya

Joost Nusselder
Everything from alamang to stews can make this bitter melon taste great. Here are the best Filipino recipes for ampalaya.1
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Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 3 mins
Total Time 18 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Filipino
Servings 6 people
Calories 66 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 4 pcs ampalaya (bitter gourd)

Instructions
 

  • Finely slice ampalaya, wash and let soak for an hour in water with salt. This is to reduce the bitter taste. After an hour wash ampalaya over running water to eliminate the bitter taste and salt while tightly squeezing it.
  • Add washed, crushed and drained ampalaya
  • Cook ampalaya bitter melon for about 3 mins.

Nutrition

Calories: 66kcal
Keyword Ampalaya
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

What does ampalaya taste like?

Ampalaya has a unique taste that is often described as being similar to a cross between cucumber and squash. The flesh of the fruit is firm and crunchy, with a slightly bitter flavor. The skin of the fruit is also edible, although it is typically quite bitter. Ampalaya is commonly used in Asian cuisine, and is often stir-fried or used in soups and stews. It can also be pickled or made into juice.

Larger gourds are less bitter than smaller ones.

Why does ampalaya taste bitter?

The bitterness in ampalaya is caused by a group of compounds called cucurbitacins. These compounds are also responsible for the bitter taste of other vegetables, such as cabbage and Brussels sprouts. Cucurbitacins are thought to have a protective role in plants, deterring animals from eating them.

In small amounts, cucurbitacins may actually have health benefits, but consuming large amounts can be toxic.

How do you make ampalaya not bitter?

There are a few ways to make ampalaya less bitter. One method is to soak the fruit in salt water for 30 minutes before cooking. This helps to remove some of the cucurbitacins from the skin. Another option is to cook the fruit with other ingredients, such as tomatoes or onions, which can help balance the bitterness.

Finally, adding a bit of sweetness, such as honey or sugar, can also help to offset the bitterness.

Can I soak ampalaya overnight?

Soaking ampalaya in salt water overnight is a common method for making the fruit less bitter. This helps to remove some of the cucurbitacins from the skin, making it more palatable. Just 10 minutes will already have an effect, but soaking it overnight will greatly reduce the bitterness.

How do you know if ampalaya is fresh?

When shopping for ampalaya, look for fruits that are firm and free of blemishes. Avoid fruits that are soft or have brown spots. If the fruit is ripe, it will have a reddish-orange color.

Ampalaya can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.

What does ampalaya go well with?

Ampalaya goes well with pork, beef, chicken, and fish. It can also be used in vegan and vegetarian dishes. Try pairing it with rice, noodles, or other vegetables.

Is ampalaya healthy?

Ampalaya is a good source of vitamins A, C, and B6. It also contains potassium, magnesium, and fiber. It has been used for centuries in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments. Today, it is being studied for its potential anti-cancer properties.

Can you eat ampalaya while pregnant?

Although ampalaya contains many nutrients that are good for health, it also carries some risks. It can cause allergies and digestive disorders and may increase the risk of miscarriage or premature birth. For this reason, it is best to avoid eating ampalaya during pregnancy.

Conclusion

Even though bitter melon or ampalaya is quite bitter, there are still numerous ways to cook this healthy vegetable in a lot of different recipes.

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Bitemybun's family recipes with complete meal planner and recipe guide.

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.