ampalaya guisado close up
Heirloom Recipe,  Ulam | Main Dishes

Ampalaya Guisado | Sautéed Bitter Melon Recipe

When we were growing up, both my husband and I were not fond of  ampalaya.  I guess it is—like okra and cilantro—a taste that you acquire as you grow older.  As grown-ups we like the bittersweet taste of ampalaya, and find it quite cooling and therefore refreshing to the mouth. 

Bitterness also has its place in the diet, according to traditional principles of Filipino cooking.  In my teenage years when dysmenorrhea was part of my monthly experience, my elders discouraged me from taking pain-killers.  Instead I was made to eat ampalaya to expel as much unwanted blood as was causing the pain.  Today ampalaya (Momordica charantia) is a BFAD-approved anti-diabetes food and drug supplement whose efficacy is beginning to gain international recognition as well.

This dish is so easy to prepare, we cook it any time during the week to balance our  mostly-meat menu.

ampalaya guisado bright
ampalaya guisado

Ampalaya Guisado | Sautéed Bitter Melon


  • 2 medium ampalaya about ½ k total
  • 1 T oil
  • 1 T crushed garlic
  • 1 medium tomato sliced
  • 1 onion sliced
  • ¼ c shrimp shelled
  • ¼ c boiled pork cut into strips
  • ¼ c patis
  • 1 c pork broth or shrimp water
  • {2 eggs slightly beaten}


  • Cut ampalaya in half lengthwise, remove and discard seeds. Place cut-side down on a cutting board and slice on the diagonal into ¼-inch-thick slices. Blanch in lightly salted boiling water for about 2 minutes to remove excess bitterness; drain in a colander.
  • In a skillet, heat oil and sauté garlic, tomato, and onion. Stir-fry shrimp and pork until shrimp changes color. Add patis and simmer covered until flavors have blended and developed, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Add broth and bring to a boil; adjust seasoning. Add ampalaya and simmer covered until ampalaya is cooked but still crisp, about 3 to 5 minutes. Do NOT stir the ampalaya so as not to disperse the bitter flavor.
  • Make a crater in the middle of the skillet by pushing some of the sautéed mixture to the sides. Pour egg into crater and stir until set. Stir egg into ampalaya mixture until evenly distributed.


SERVING | Serve with rice or as a side to Lechong Kawali or fried/grilled fish, and a glass of Riesling.
OPTIONS | To make meatless Ampalaya Guisado—simply omit shrimp and pork.

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