31 May 2007

Ampalaya Surprise

After a long pause, I return to fulfill a promise to an invitation extended to me weeks ago by my friend Toni of the famous award-winning blog, the Wifely Steps. I refer to Lasang Pinoy 18: Oh My Gulay!, which is the Grand Rounds of Filipino food bloggers. Now, while I certainly do not classify myself as a food blogger, I feel honored that dear Toni has invited me...and taking a break from a hectic schedule, I now present my vegetable recipe --- starring none other than the dreaded and denigrated Ampalaya of my childhood.

Ampalaya is also known as the Bitter Gourd, and what better way to scare potential tasters by prefixing your name with a negative adjective? Bitter! Oh yes!!! If you do not know how to handle it, you would end up wincing as you chew it. I remember how as a child I would beg my mother not to force me to eat this terrible vegetable. An often-told legend tells that the Ampalaya has wrinkled skin and bitter taste because once a upon a time it was a very jealous vegetable. But that's fiction, and today we know better than to believe in fairy tales.

Today, the lowly bitter Ampalaya is touted as a helpful remedy for the high blood sugar levels of diabetics. There are now companies which manufacture Ampalaya teas and capsules and market them as blood sugar lowering agents. Studies like this one say that eating it can even be comparable to the effects of taking in "2.8 milligrams of the anti-diabetes drug glibenclamide." But because I would rather eat the real thing than to gulp those processed tea and tablets, I came up with the recipe below which I hope would help you begin a beautiful relationship with the villainized vegetable.



2 medium-sized Ampalaya

1 pack of oyster mushrooms (150 grams)

5 cloves of garlic, crushed or sliced thinly

1 medium white onion, sliced

4 teaspoons of iodized rock salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

2 tablespoons of oyster sauce or
any mild spiced barbecue sauce

2-3 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil

1 medium-sized egg (optional)

¼ kilo of fried squid rings (optional)

¼ kilo of pre-boiled large shrimps, shelled and sliced (optional)

¼ kilo of Baguio beans, sliced diagonally (optional)

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Serves: 1-2 people

Cooking Time: 10 minutes


1. Slice your Ampalaya by cutting them crosswise first in the middle, and then lengthwise. Remove the pulp carefully using a knife.

2. Place ample amounts of the iodized rock salt in the middle of the sliced Ampalayas (where the pulps used to be). Rub them vigorously using your fingers and thumb and try to remove any remaining trace of the pulpy material. Let it stand for 1-2 minutes. What is the rock salt for? It helps in neutralizing the bitter taste.

3. Slice your garlic, onion, and oyster mushrooms to thin pieces. Heat your wok or cooking pan, and add 2-3 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil. Add the sliced pieces of garlic, onion, and oyster mushrooms, and stir occasionally. Switch to low heat, and do not cover.

4. Rinse the remaining iodized rock salt thoroughly from the sliced Ampalayas using running tap water from the faucet. Slice to smaller pieces, and add to the simmering garlic, onion, and oyster mushroom mix in your cooking pan or wok. Add 2 tbsps of oyster sauce. Continue stirring for a minute, and then turn off the heat. Sprinkle it with half a teaspoon of ground black pepper. Cover for 1-2 minutes, and then it is ready to serve!

5. As an option, feel creative enough to add your desired accessory ingredients: an egg, sliced large shrimps, squid rings, green Baguio beans, or all of those! Enjoy another healthy meal!

UPDATE: I cooked and ate this dish again last night and this time, I accessorized with squid rings, shrimps, and green beans. Below is the image of the finished product:

If ever you can successfully garnish this dish of mine with other exciting ingredients, please share with me and my readers your pictures and experience. Happy eating, everyone!!

30 reactions:

JMom said...

OH MY....doc, this is really a surprise. I would never think of combining the ingredients you used. It sounds delicious, especially with squid. Yummy!!

Dr. Emer said...

Thanks, JMOM! Toni has posted the round-up here.

cathy said...

and i eat ampalaya because of my diabetes. Either I boil it, pickle or
cook with shrimp and scrambled eggs.
Problem is, there are not so many bitter gourds in my place.

ajay said...

This has got to be the best OMG post...step by step talaga:) and the recipe is yummehh. Great work Dr E! AJAY

Dr. Emer said...

from what part of the world are you, cathy?

salamat, ajay! masarap talaga yan! :)

chateau said...

Love the step-by-step illustration! I'm not a big fan of ampalaya, primarily because my kids and husband don't eat it... and I will end up eating the whole lot!
I love how the end-product looked - enticing! Sige na nga, will try this soon.
Thanks for sharing!

BatJay said...

WOO-HOO! sarap. miss ko tuloy ang pagkaing pinoy.

iska said...

the photo got me convinced! a must-try recipe :-)

kaoko said...

I've never heard of ampalaya with squid. It sounds yummy, especially since you say rubbing salt cuts the ampalaya's bitterness. Another recipe worth trying.

siu said...

Honestly, I hate this vegetable. But your last picture made my mouth water. I'll try this recipe. I will link your site if you don't mind.

bayi said...

There's no doubt about it. You are going to make a wonderful husband to a lucky girl!

Dr. Emer said...

CHATEAU: You're most welcome! I also used to hate Ampalaya, but after discovering its blood sugar-lowering potential, I thought of a recipe (the one above) which will make me eat it.

BATJAY: Ang sarap din ng grilled veggies mo, boss!

ISKA: Thank you!

KAOKO: Yes, and I do hope you share your experience with it.

SIU: Thanks! Yes, link away! It is also a healthy dish.

BAYI: I will ask the "lucky girl" if he agrees with you. *LOL*

ces said...

what a nice surprise! i think this is the yummiest ampalaya recipe there is! just looking at those extras! now i have another ampalaya dish to cook! thanks for sharing!

cathy said...

sa planeta ng mga pusa doc. meow

may said...

welcome back chef, i mean dr. emer!

may said...

by the way, this is the best template i have seen after all those changes. i like it:)

Dr. Emer said...

CES: Yes, the "extras" work best by distracting you from the bitter part of this healthy vegetable.

CATHY: Naku, kayo po pala yan! Pasensya na at ngayon lang ulit kita nakita dito. Nawa ay na sa mabuti kang kalagayan. Kumain ng ampalaya!

MAY: Salamat! Nothing better than cooking and reading a book to take your mind off our daily dose of stress.

BatJay said...

sarap ng ampalaya mo doc. pag uwi namin iluto mo kami niyan.

BatJay said...

nakalimutan kong sabihin... ampalaya at egg lang ay ok na ok na sa akin.

stef said...

goodness, this is the 4th ampalaya entry i've seen so far. considering how so many of us hate it, that's amazing! i've learned to love it through the years... and love your awesome pics! tamang tama, i just bought 2 the other day. one will go into my sautee with egg. and then i'll have to try your recipe!

rolly said...

Like everybody else, I never liked ampalaya as a boy. But I got to get accustomed to it. Even addicted. Thanks to you, there's another recipe I can try with it.

watson said...

Oh wow. Complete with photos! I was thinking of asking what oyster mushrooms look like (familiar lang ako sa button at sa tenga ng daga), and then I saw the photo. Nice! Nakakaengganyong gawin yung recipe

Dr. Emer said...

JAY: Sure thing! I will cook this when you and Jet visit us.

STEF: The more, the merrier! People should learn to eat more ampalaya every day! ;-)

T.ROLLS: Subukan mo ito, and tell me if you like it!

WATSON: Try it! Try it!

bayi said...

I can eat bitter gourd any way that it's cooked. I even drink bitter gourd soup! I just love eating it!

A friend I was talking to hates its bitterness. Take the "bitter" out of the gourd and I'll eat it. That was what he told me!

Anonymous said...

I love your delicious recipe, could we publish it on our
Daily Recipe Blog?
We will put a link back to your page so you get all the credit, also our visitors might go to your site to see more delicious recipes!
We have every day a new recipe for: General recipes, Breakfast, Low Carb, Low Fat, Desert...
It would be so great to add yours!

Clarence said...

Hi Doc,

This particularly interested me because I am an ampalaya lover since childhood. I am now 36 and I eat it at least three times a week. My father conditioned me to eat ampalaya since I was small so I acquired the taste and I find bitterness a small worry.

What, if there are any at all, are the "negative" benefits of eating ampalaya on a regular, say even daily basis? I'm curious to know.


manel said...

wow! looks yummy to me :)

Kristen said...

This vegetable is called goya or nigai-uri in Japan and I love it! We normally eat it stir fried with tofu (or scrambled egg), bean sprouts and garlic and seasoned with soy sauce.

I like you salt on the inside trick. I usually de-seed (with a spoon) and slice mine, then salt it all over and let it sit for 15 minutes before gently squeezing out any excess "aku" (the bitter liquid) and rinsing.

jenifer said...

good eveningdoc!!!
im jenifer a nursing student!!!
i jst want to say thank you for the information that you had been provided in your blog about the top 10 causes of morbidity and the ampalaya surprise!!! i will surely visit your blogs!!!Aways...
thank you!!!

Anonymous said...