Ampalaya Con Carne Recipe (Beef Ampalaya)

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Turning Bitter into Better: How to Make Ampalaya Palatable

Hey mommy friend! I’m so excited to share with you my go-to recipe for Ampalaya con Carne or also known as Beef Ampalaya. As a busy mom, I know how important it is to have quick and nutritious meals in our rotation, and this dish ticks all the boxes.

You know how it is – sometimes our kids can be picky eaters, especially when it comes to bitter veggies like ampalaya (bitter melon). Did you know that ampalaya is a good source of Vitamin C and A? It also contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Modern science is now validating the health benefits that traditional Filipino healers have known for years. So we want our kids enjoying this superfood, right? Here’s the trick – we gotta dull that bitter bite. The secret is in the preparation and the delicious sauce that balances out the bitterness. Trust me, this Ampalaya Con Carne recipe is a game-changer!

Preparing the Ampalaya

First things first, we need to tackle that ampalaya bitterness head-on. Here’s what I do:

  1. Slice the ampalaya lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and white pith. This is where most of the bitterness lies.
  2. Rub some rock salt all over the sliced ampalaya and let it sit for about 10-15 minutes. The salt will help draw out the bitter juices.
  3. Rinse the ampalaya thoroughly under running water to remove the salt and bitter juices.
  4. Give it a quick taste. If it’s still too bitter for your liking, repeat the salting process until you’re happy with the level of bitterness.

This extra step might seem like a hassle, but trust me, it makes a world of difference! Plus, it’s a great way to get the kids involved in the kitchen. My little ones love helping me with this part.

Ampalaya Con Carne Recipe (Beef Ampalaya) 1

The Ampalaya con Carne (Beef Ampalaya)

Now, let’s get cooking!


  • 1/2 kilo beef sirloin, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium-sized ampalayas, deseeded and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Beef Marinade Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch


Prepare the Beef:

    • In a bowl, combine the beef slices with the marinade ingredients: soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, ground black pepper, and cornstarch. Mix well to ensure the beef slices are well-coated. Allow the beef to marinate for at least 10 minutes to absorb the flavors.

    Prep the Ampalaya:

      • While the beef is marinating, prepare the ampalaya by slicing it in half lengthwise, removing the seeds with a spoon. Make sure to remove all of the white pith because that also contributes to its bitterness and then cutting it into thin slices.

      Cooking the Ampalaya Con Carne Dish:

        • Heat the cooking oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Sauté the garlic and onion until aromatic and translucent.
        • Add the marinated beef to the skillet and stir-fry until it’s nearly cooked through, about 3-5 minutes.
        • Add the sliced ampalaya to the skillet. Stir-fry for another 3-5 minutes, or until the ampalaya is tender yet still crisp.
        • Pour in the soy sauce, oyster sauce, and water. Add sugar to balance the bitterness of the ampalaya. Stir well to combine all the ingredients. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld together.
        • Season with salt and pepper to taste.

        Serve the the Ampalaya Con Carne :

          • Transfer the Ampalaya Con Carne to a serving dish. This dish is best served hot and goes well with steamed rice, making for a comforting and satisfying meal.


          • Velveting the Beef: To ensure the beef is tender, you can add a small amount of baking soda (1/8 tsp) to the marinade. This helps to tenderize the meat by breaking down the proteins.

          This ampalaya dish is such a hit in our household, even with my picky eaters. The tender beef and savory sauce make the ampalaya so enjoyable. Plus, it’s packed with nutrients, so I don’t feel guilty about serving it often.

          I remember the first time I made this for my husband, he was so impressed! He said it reminded him of the ampalaya con carne he used to have as a kid. It’s dishes like these that keep our Filipino traditions alive, even in our modern busy lives.

          Let me know if you try this recipe, mommy friend! I’d love to hear how your family liked it. And if you have any tips or tricks for making ampalaya more kid-friendly, please share! Us moms have to stick together, right?

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