Have you ever had seen or heard about this warty looking vegetable?  The ampalaya belongs to the same family as pumpkins and watermelons.  Unlike pumpkins and watermelons, ampalaya is extremely bitter.  Recently, I brought a couple of pieces home from my grandparents’ garden in Illinois.  When I was young it was “Leslie finish your ampalaya before you can leave the dinner table.”  Believe me, it was a lot worst than what some American kids have to go through with brocolli.  After many years, I finally grew to love the last of the basic tastes, bitterness.

There are five basic tastes:  sweetness, sourness, saltiness, savoriness (umami), and bitterness.  The first taste humans love is sweetness which you can observe in candy crazed children.  As we evolve our palates seek more and more complex tastes.  Some people are extremely sensitive to bitterness so they might avoid the flavor completely, even as adults.  The ampalaya is very healthy and rich in vitamin C, vitamin B, zinc, potassium, and it’s also low in calorie.  Current research has suggested that it may also help in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes.  I have seen them sold at the Madison farmer’s market if you’re brave enough to try it.

Tippy Top Organic Garlic

To make this meal even healthier, I decided to add some garlic from Tippy Top Organic Orchard.  They are incredibly pungent and huge (that’s a penny for scale).  Each clove being twice as big as my thumb. 

Fresh Farm Eggs & Sliced Garlic


Itlog at Ampalaya


  • 1 young ampalaya (bitter melon)         *younger = less bitter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1 T. oil
  • salt
  • black pepper

Soaking Liquid

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 t. salt

Wash and clean the bitter melon.  Scoop out the pith.  Slice and soak in the saltwater solution for 15 minutes to half an hour.  The longer you soak it, the less bitter it gets.  After soaking, squeeze the vegetable pieces and gently dry with a paper towel.  Heat the oil in the pan gently.  Add the ampalaya then the garlic and sautee for about 3 minutes.  Add the beaten eggs, salt, and pepper.  Serve with steamed jasmine rice and maybe another clove of garlic 🙂 



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