Cooked With Vegetables

Ampalaya (bitter melon) con lechon kawali

Ampalaya (bitter melon) con lechon kawali |

Almost every Filipino food recipe website includes a recipe for ampalaya con carne. Not mine. In fact, I don’t consider my food blog to be a Filipino recipe blog. I am a Filipino and I write the recipes here but the Filipino recipes I have published constitute a very small part of the blog.

But the real reason why I don’t have a recipe for ampalaya con carne is because I am not a fan of ampalaya. It is called bitter melon (or bitter gourd) for a good reason. It is bitter — and the more mature the ampalaya, the more bitter it is. My taste buds object. Big time.

Consequently, after 12 years of blogging and publishing thousands of recipes and cooking tips, I have only four articles about ampalaya. There are three recipes — with eggs, stuffed ampalaya and a salad. And the most important ampalaya post — how to get rid of the bitter taste.

Two Saturdays ago, I was at Lotus Pod Farm to do a cooking demo and I came home with a basket of freshly harvested vegetables that included about half a dozen pieces of organic ampalaya. The following day, I cooked them.

Fortunately for Speedy and me, the ampalaya from Lotus Pod Farm were pretty young things. I didn’t even need to toss them with salt to make them expel water and much of the bitter taste. I just scraped the seeds and the pith, sliced them and cooked them. With lechon kawali.

Before making this dish, have your lechon kawali ready because once you’ve sautéed the ampalaya with aromatics, you just add the lechon kawali and toss everything together. For instructions on cooking lechon kawali with no deep frying, click here. To prep the ampalaya, click here.

Ampalaya (bitter melon) con lechon kawali
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
20 mins
Servings: 2 to 4
Author: Connie Veneracion
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 onion or 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 heaping tablespoon salted black beans
  • 2 to 3 cups thinly sliced ampalaya
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • pinch sugar
  • 1/2 cup bone broth
  • 2 cups roast pork belly (lechon kawali)
  • Sriracha as much as you like
  1. Heat the cooking oil in a frying pan.
  2. Saute the onion, garlic, ginger and tausi until fragrant.
  3. Add the ampalaya slices. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and a little sugar. Toss a few times.
  4. Pour in the broth. Bring to the boil. Lower the heat, cover and simmer until the ampalaya slices are cooked through but not mushy. Depending on the maturity of the ampalaya, this can take anywhere from five to 10 minutes.
  5. When the ampalaya is cooked and the mixture is almost dry, add the lechon kawali. Drizzle in the Sriracha. Cook, tossing often, until the meat is heated through.
  6. Serve hot with rice.
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