Ginisang Ampalaya with Ground Turkey

Ginisang Ampalaya is usually made with ground beef or pork, but I wanted a healthier version so I used ground turkey instead. I also added achuete to this dish to add flavor. Ampalaya (or bitter melon) is a gourd plant with green skin and a white-to-translucent inner flesh. This vegetable is especially rich in important nutrients including vitamin C, Vitamin A which is a fat-soluble vitamin that promotes skin health and proper vision. It is also rich in antioxidants and is said to also help manage diabetes.

Unless you grew up with bitter gourd as part of your regular diet, it might take you a while to warm up to the bitter flavor. But there are ways to reduce the bitterness of this vegetable as stated in the instructions below. Bitter gourd contains bioactive compounds called saponins and terpenoids. These compounds are responsible for the vegetable's bitter taste, but may also play a role in lowering blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. The saponins and terpenoids in bitter gourd may help move glucose from the blood to the cells while also helping your liver and muscles better process and store glucose.


  • 1 pound of ground turkey
  • 2 pieces of ampalaya (bitter melon), thoroughly washed, sliced into 1/2 inch thick pieces and rubbed with salt then set the ampalaya aside
  • 2 tablespoons of garlic
  • 1/2 cup of red onions, chopped
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 tablespoon of achuete
  • 1 tablespoon of patis (fish sauce) to taste
  • 1 teaspoon of white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of cooking oil
  • 1 teaspoon of chili garlic oil (optional)


  1. Place a large pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the ground turkey to the pan.
  3. Cook the ground turkey while continuously stirring until brown.
  4. Then remove it from the pan and set it aside.
  5. Next take same large pen and place it over medium-low heat.
  6. Once the pan has heated up, add 2 tablespoons of cooking oil and the garlic.
  7. Occasionally stir the garlic as it cooks. Continue cooking the garlic until it is golden brown.
  8. Now add the red onion and achuete to the pan.
  9. Let this cook while occasionally stirring until the onion is translucent and the achuete is well blended.
  10. Rinse the salt off of the ampalaya with water.
  11. Add ampalaya to the pan and stir until well blended.
  12. Let this cook for 7 minutes while occasionally stirring.
  13. Then add the ground turkey to the pot and stir again until well blended.
  14. Add water and stir once again.
  15. Cook for another 5 minutes or until ampalaya is cooked through.
  16. Add fish sauce to taste and chili oil to add spice to the dish.
  17. Remove the pan from the eat and transfer the contents to a serving dish.
  18. Serve and enjoy!

If you don't have ground turkey available, you can use ground chicken instead. Chicken and Turkey have lean meat and are much healthier and leaner than ground beef or pork. Another way to reduce the bitterness of the ampalaya is to soak it in 2 to 3 cups of water with 1 teaspoon salt if you don't want to rub it in salt. Both ways work to reduce the bitter taste of the vegetable. If you don't like spicy food, you can omit the chili garlic oil.


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