Ampalaya salad Ampalaya Salad

Another recipe from my friend Melissa who also gave me the mango royale recipe from which I derived my strawberry royale dessert. Melissa brought this ampalaya salad last night to our weekly dinner with friends as an accompaniment to her fried tilapia.

There was a time, before I was married, when I was very ill and suffering from anemia. My family encouraged me to eat ampalaya which, they said, would help rebuild by blood supply. Well, I was never an ampalaya fan. You could recite all the health benefits of ampalaya ’till you were blue in the face and I’d still say that the bitter taste outweighed them all. When Melissa sent me an SMS yesterday afternoon saying she would be bringing ampalaya salad, I was curious but not exactly excited. In my experience, ampalaya was bitter no matter how you prepared it. Surprisingly, this salad dish gave me a whole new perspective on ampalaya. Yes, it was a little bitter, but not the kind of offensive bitterness that made me want to spit it out almost as soon as I put them in my mouth.

Ampalaya is a vegetable grown throughout the Philippines. It is mostly cultivated, although wild forms can be found. It grows wild in the remote areas of Mt. Banahaw. As the English name suggests (bitter melon), the melon has a bitter taste due to the presence of momordicin. There has been much research done on the effectiveness of using Momordica Charantia in the treatment of diabetes. It has been shown to increase production of beta cells by the pancreas, thereby improving the body’s ability to produce insulin. It has been recommended by the Department of Health of the Philippines, as one of the best herbal medicines for it’s ability to help with liver problems, Diabetes and HIV. It is a common herb used in Chinese herbology. In the Philippines, the leaves are often used for children’s coughs. It is also used in the treatment of skin diseases, sterility in women, as a parasiticide, as an antipyretic, and as a purgative. []

Ingredients :

2 pcs. of ampalaya
1 medium-sized carrot
1 c. of mild vinegar
11/8 c. of white sugar
1 tsp. of salt
1/2 tsp. of pepper
about 1/2 c. of rock salt

Cooking procedure :

Choose ampalaya with the smoothest skin you can find. Trim both ends then cut into halves lengthwise. Scrape off the seeds with a spoon and discard. Slice the meat thinly. Place in a shallow bowl and sprinkle with rock salt liberally. Let stand for about 30 minutes. With your hands, squeeze the sliced ampalaya to remove much of the bitter juices. Rinse under the tap and drain well. Place in a glass bowl.

Peel the carrot and julienne. Toss with the drained ampalaya. Place the vegetables in a large glass jar with a screw-type cap.

Boil together the vinegar, sugar salt and pepper. Pour into the jar. Cover the jar loosely and cool. Tighten the cap and chill until needed.

This cold salad dish is good with fried or grilled fish and other seafood.


  1. says

    The procedure is quiet the same as making atchara. I make atchara with ampalaya, too.

    We make ampalaya salad, just the way you did but, without the cooking part. It’s like kilawin. we just mix ampalaya meat sliced thinly, minced onions, sliced tomatoes, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste, and sugar. Then we chill it before serving.