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Ampalaya with Beef and Black Beans

This Filipino dish Ampalaya with Beef and Black Beans is my version of the Cavite recipe Ampalaya con Carne. This entree is a saute of sliced ampalaya (bitter melon), savory strips of beef and salted black beans. This dish cooks fast and easy in a wok or a large skillet. Best served with rice. This recipe was adapted from the cookbook Republic of Taste: Untold Stories of Cavite Cuisine by Ige Ramos. Serves 2.
Prep Time1 hr 5 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time1 hr 15 mins
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course, Side Dish, Vegetables
Cuisine: American, Asian, Filipino
Keyword: Ampalaya Beef Black Beans
Servings: 2 people
Calories: 257kcal
Author: Asian in America


  • wok or large skillet


  • 1 to 2 whole pieces ampalaya (bitter melon or bitter gourd) sliced, seeded, white spongy parts removed; about 2 cups
  • 1/2 cup salt for soaking ampalaya
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda for blanching ampalaya in water
  • 3 cups water
  • 4 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 whole onion chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons tausi (canned salted black beans) drain water if canned
  • 2 teaspoons oyster sauce
  • 1/4 pound beef sirloin; or skirt steak sliced in 2-inch thin strips
  • 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable broth (or water)
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper powder
  • steamed rice for serving


To prepare the ampalaya:

  • Slice the ampalaya open horizontally in half. Using a sharp knife or fork, scrape off the seeds and white spongy membrane - discard these.
    Slice the ampalaya further into 1/2-inch sized thick ringlets.
    Soak the ampalaya in a bowl filled with salt. Mix and coat pieces with the salt. Keep the ampalaya soaked in salt for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  • After soaking, rinse the ampalaya in running water. Set aside.
    Boil 3 cups of water in a medium stock pot. Blanche the ampalaya for 30 to 40 seconds. Remove from the boiling water.
    Drain the ampalaya. Soak blanched ampalaya in a bowl filled with iced water for 5 minutes. This is to stop the cooking process and maintain the fresh, green appearance of the vegetable.
    Drain ampalaya and set aside.

To saute the ampalaya:

  • In a large wok or skillet, over medium-high heat, add the vegetable oil.
    When oil is hot enough in 1 to 2 minutes, saute the garlic and onions.
    Mix in the tausi (salted black beans) and oyster sauce.
    Add the beef strips to the mixture. Sprinkle the brown sugar. Saute together with the rest of the ingredients for 5 minutes.
  • Pour the vegetable broth, and soy sauce.
    Add the ampalaya. Blend with the beef. Cook for 2 minutes more.
    Season with sesame oil and ground black pepper.
    Serve warm with rice.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 257kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 23g | Sodium: 29192mg | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 34mg | Iron: 1mg