Ampalaya has a reputation. It’s not called a “bitter gourd” for nothing. Take a bite of a piece of the forest green-skinned gourd and the first and overpowering taste you will experience is bitterness.
In fact, it’s highly bitter and for some, this is a deal breaker. Bitterness is not a flavor that many will tolerate in their food.
If, however, you are one of the few who appreciate the ampalaya or want to try to learn to enjoy it more in your dishes, then there are a few tricks you need to learn to remove the bitterness.
First things first: prepare the ampalaya.
Here’s what you do: slice open the ampalaya along its length then, using a spoon, scrape out the seeds and the white pith underneath until the green gourd is exposed. Slice as desired, usually in 1/4-inch half moons. Then it’s time to learn how to remove the bitterness.
Here are three ways you can remove the bitterness from the ampalaya:
1 Rub it with salt.
This is the classic way to remove the bitterness from the ampalaya.
Here’s what you do: before slicing the ampalaya into half moons, rub 1 teaspoon salt along the inside of the ampalaya where the seeds were scraped from. Do this to both halves, then set aside for at least 5 minutes. You’ll notice when you check the ampalaya after this time that the salted grooves have developed some moisture. The salt has drawn out the bitter sap – the water – from the gourd.
Rinse these grooves of any leftover salt and the sap from the ampalaya. Pat dry, slice, and use as directed according to the recipe.
2 Soak it in salty water.
The other way of removing the bitterness from the ampalaya is by soaking it in water seasoned with salt. Prepare the ampalaya up to slicing the ampalaya into half moons. Then fill a large bowl with water, season it with a large pinch of salt, and add the ampalaya. Lightly squeeze the ampalaya slices then set it aside for as little as 5 minutes to overnight.
After the soaking, drain, rinse, pat dry the ampalaya pieces, and use according to the recipe.
3 Rinse it.
While the 5-minute soak in water is fairly a short time, there is a quicker way to do it that can still result in less bitter ampalaya in your dish. After slicing into half moons, place in a bowl and rinse well with water. Easy, simple, and somewhat effective that is fast. Pat dry and use as needed in your recipe.
Ampalaya is known as a great ingredient, especially for those who need to lower their blood sugar contents. Even if you don’t have any medical reason for eating ampalaya, it makes for a great ingredient for any number of side dishes you can eat with your fried fish meal.