In mid-2004, a friend shared her recipe for ampalaya (bitter melon / gourd) salad. Ampalaya is not in my list of favorite vegetables, I tried the salad once, it was good but the bitterness of the ampalaya still bothered me despite having steeped the ampalaya slices in salt before adding the pickling solution. It’s been more than 11 years and I’ve found a good trick. The bitterness will always be there, salting only minimizes it but by adding more flavors to the salad, the bitterness can be masked that it becomes quite negligible.
So, I figured it was the best time to embark on an ampalaya binge.
First, I wrote a more comprehensive guide on choosing ampalaya and how to prep it to remove as much of the bitterness as possible.
Then, I wrote two recipes. The first is a new pickled ampalaya salad recipe with two choices — Filipino or Vietnamese flavors? — for the pickling solution and a whole lot of options for garnishes and toppings to really make the pickled salad pop.
The second recipe is a pork and ampalaya stir fry. Filipinos are so used to ampalaya con carne but pork and ampalaya go together well too especially when cooked with fermented black beans (tausi). If you want an even more exciting version of ampalaya and pork stir fry, see my recipe for ampalaya con with lechon kawali.