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Ginisang Ampalaya (Sauteed Bitter Gourd)

Hurray to my ever favorite vegetable which is everybody’s most-hated item in my household!! Of the many Filipino dishes, ginisang ampalaya is my celebration of uniqueness and individuality in my Saudi Arabian home.  Nobody likes it, everybody hates it; so, I can have it all for myself!  Yaahoooooo!!

My hubby and kiddoes tried them once and decided that it was their first hello and final goodbye to it.  I felt I should remember that day for the rest of my life and owe it to them that they even tried it.  Ah!

What is ginisang amplaya?

Ampalaya, bitter gourd, or bitter melon abundantly grows in the Philippines, Southeast Asia, and the Amazon.   As the name suggests, it is bitter in taste and probably the most bitter of all vegetables.  However, it has medicinal properties and health benefits.  It has recently gained popularity in social media as a remedy for diabetes and as an aid for weight loss.  I personally do not see bitter melon for those reasons because I just love it for that!

Ginisa, on the other hand, means “sauteed.”

How we eat bitter gourd

Back home in the Philippines, we also eat ampalaya in its raw form.  With vinegar and bagoong (shrimp paste) as an accompaniment to fried or grilled fish. We make them into salads by mixing them with tomatoes, onions, and spices.  I remember my dad extracting the juice from ampalaya leaves and giving it to us to treat coughs and colds.  My sister became my dad’s nemesis because of it!  She was about 5 years old then.

Of course, after sauteeing, the bitter taste becomes not as repulsive anymore.

How to rid of the bitter taste of ampalaya

There are a few ways to treat this vegetable to rid of its bitter taste.  One is to pour hot water over them after cutting them for cooking, drain and cook as suggested in the recipe.  Another way is to soak them in salted water for about 15 minutes (also after cutting them up ).  Salt helps in removing that apparently repulsive taste which I totally love. To completely remove that bitter taste, treat them further by squishing them with your hands while in salted water and wash them again with water  (in this case, I would stew zucchinis instead 😊)

I heard from folks while growing up, that if you stir ampalaya often while cooking, the bitter taste will be gone.  In my experience, it is not always the case.  I also heard that you would get the same result if you do not cover the pan while the dish simmers.  While there seems to be some logical explanation for this, it is not always true!

To summarize, below are ways to rid of the bitter taste of ampalaya:

  • pour hot water over them after cutting them for cooking, drain and cook
  • soak them in salted water for about 15 minutes (also after cutting them up for cooking)
  • squish them with your hands while in salted water and wash them with water
  • do not stir while cooking, i.e., leave the poor thing alone!
  • do not cover the pan while the dish simmers

Ingredients for sauteed bitter gourd

Ginisang ampalaya recipe calls for basic sauteeing ingredients as garlic, onions, salt, and black pepper.  Tomatoes can also be added to it to provide softness to the palate, but it is rather optional. After the basic ingredients, either eggs, shrimps or beef become its other accompanying ingredients. It also takes only a few minutes to cook, and I prefer this to be in its almost raw state as it remains fresh and crunchy that way.

Health benefits of ampalaya

Of late, bitter melon is known to treat obesity, diabetes as it lowers blood sugar levels. It also treats common-cold problems and fever, especially its leaves. Here is an interesting article on the many benefits of this vegetable.

Other versions of ginisang ampalaya

  • Ginisang ampalaya with eggs (in this recipe)
  • Bitter gourd with shrimps. This is a similar recipe, however, eggs are replaced by hipon or shrimps.
  • Ampalaya con Carne. This is a completely different recipe and, therefore, it brings a different taste, but is definitely worth trying. This must be the only bitter melon recipe that has sauce after cooking, taking from the soy and oyster sauce.

How to serve ginisang ampalaya

I take it as it is, practically using it as an appetizer. However, it is popularly consumed atop steamed white rice. It is best served hot, but can also be eaten cold. You can season with fish sauce on the side.

Try this recipe once!  I know, I just know, that you would not regret it. I am actually confident that you would enjoy it.

This recipe also appears in the book There is No Oven in Inang’s Kitchen.

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Stewed Ampalaya

Ginisang Ampalaya (Sauteed Bitter Gourd)

  • Author: Magida
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 3 1x


Sauteed Bitter Gourd With Eggs


  • 2 medium sized ampalaya (about 1/5 k)
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 medium sized onions (diced finely)
  • 1 small tomato (seeded and chopped)
  • salt to taste
  • ¼ tbsp ground black pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup water
  • 4 tbsp cooking oil
  • 4 tbsp patis


  1. Cut ampalaya to half, remove the seeds and soak in salted water for a few minutes (the longer you soak, the less bitterness will remain). Drain in a colander.
  2. Sautee garlic, onions and tomatoes, 1 minute in between.
  3. Add eggs and stir while breaking the eggs into pieces.
  4. Add ampalaya, salt, pepper, water and patis. Stir lightly.
  5. Cook depending on the done-ness you prefer.

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