Over the ages, the kitchen has functioned as a real cultural crossroads. It’s where flavors and traditions meet, and in the process, create unique, mouth-watering dishes that echo the rich history and colorful diversity of the people who have mastered them. Imagine the Philippines, a Southeast Asian country with more than 7,000 islands, every island a treasure trove of delicious Filipino dishes that are as vibrant and diverse as the country itself. One beloved dish among these culinary gems is Ginisang Ampalaya, a hearty recipe brimming with authentic Filipino flavours.
Ginisang Ampalaya: A Symphony of Flavour
Ginisang Ampalaya, or sauteed bitter melon, is a humble yet potent dish that pulls at the heartstrings of every food-loving Filipino. On the last shelf of the fridge, hidden behind a throng of other vegetables, you might spot an unassuming, warty-skinned gourd. This is Ampalaya, or bitter melon. Some might grimace at its strong, bitter taste. Yet, for every Filipino, it’s a nostalgic reminder of childhood lunches, an emblem of our gastronomic heritage.
The Magic Behind the Bitterness
Ampalaya’s bitterness might turn a few heads away. Yet, in the hands of an experienced cook, that bitterness can be transformed into something magical. In the Ginisang Ampalaya recipe, the bitter melon is sautéed with onions, garlic, tomatoes and shrimp. A dash of soy sauce and a sprinkling of ground black pepper balance the bitterness, creating an umami-rich experience that is, honestly, second to none.
The beating heart of the dish, however, is the beaten eggs added towards the end. As the egg sets, it weaves through the bitter melon, blanketing the ingredients in a warm, comforting hug. It’s like magic – the once disdainfully bitter Ampalaya transformed into a savory dish that’s positively addicting.
How to Make Ginisang Ampalaya
- 2 medium-sized bitter melon (ampalaya), sliced into thin rounds
- 2 medium-sized tomatoes, sliced
- 1 medium-sized onion, sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ lb pork, sliced into small pieces
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Begin by preparing the bitter melon. Cut them in half lengthwise, remove the seeds and pith, and then slice into thin half-rounds. To lessen the bitterness, you can soak the sliced ampalaya in salted water for about 10 minutes. Rinse thoroughly and drain.
- In a large pan or wok, heat the cooking oil over medium heat. Add the pork and sauté until it turns light brown.
- Add the garlic, onions, and tomatoes. Sauté until the onions are translucent and the tomatoes start to soften.
- Add the sliced bitter melon (ampalaya) to the pan. Stir-fry for about 2-3 minutes.
- Stir in the oyster sauce, then cover the pan and let it simmer over low heat for about 5 minutes, or until the bitter melon is cooked to your preferred softness.
- Season with salt and pepper according to your taste.
- Create a well in the center of the pan and pour in the beaten eggs. Let the eggs set for a minute before stirring to mix them with the rest of the ingredients.
- Cook for another 2 minutes, then remove from heat.
Serve your Ginisang Ampalaya hot with a side of steamed rice. This hearty, healthy, and easy-to-make dish is sure to be a hit with your family! Enjoy the authentic taste of Filipino home cooking.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I lessen the bitterness of Ampalaya?
By sprinkling salt on the Ampalaya slices and letting it sit for a while, then rinsing and draining, some bitterness is drawn out. However, totally removing the bitterness isn’t the point. The subtle bitterness is what makes Ginisang Ampalaya unique and authentic.
Can I make Ginisang Ampalaya vegan?
Indeed, you can! Replace the meat with tofu for a vegan version and opt for an egg substitute.
A Taste of Filipino Culture on a Plate
Ginisang Ampalaya, a simple dish from the Philippine Islands, offers an irresistible blend of flavors. It’s a window to the soul of Filipino culture, where a love for hearty, home-cooked meals is deeply ingrained. This recipe is an epitome of Filipino resilience and creativity—turning a bitter gourd into a savory, delectable dish. So if you haven’t tried Ginisang Ampalaya yet, it’s high time you did. And if you’ve already fallen in love with it, why not spread the joy? After all, nothing says love quite like a plateful of home-cooked Ginisang Ampalaya. Enjoy Filipino flavors in every bite, it’s more than just a meal—it’s a tradition!