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Goya Champuru (Video) ゴーヤチャンプルー

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    Okinawa’s most iconic Goya Champuru is a stir fry dish with bitter melon, tofu, egg, and pork belly. This popular savory dish is a truly rustic yet well-balanced meal to serve with steamed rice and a side of miso soup.

    Goya Champuru on plates with glass of ice tea.

    Goya Champuru (ゴーヤチャンプル) is a popular stir fry dish that came from the sunny island of Okinawa in southern Japan. Made with vibrant green bitter melon, tofu, pork belly, and egg, it is packed with protein and nutrients.

    As I am planning my first trip to Okinawa this winter, I am excited to discover many more delicious Okinawan dishes. But first, let me introduce this simple yet absolutely healthy home cooked dish of Okinawa – Goya Champuru with you.

    Watch How To Make Goya Champuru

    Watch this video on YouTube

    What is Goya Champuru?

    Goya (ゴーヤ) is an Okinawan dialect for Nigauri (にがうり). It’s bitter melon or bitter gourd in English. As you can probably guess, bitter melon is famous for its bitterness, but it is remarkably nutritious.

    Chanpurū (チャンプルー) refers to Okinawan stir fry dishes, meaning “something mixed” in Okinawan. Stir fry dishes are a big part of Okinawan cuisine. There are different types of champuru. Usually it contains tofu with some kind of vegetables, meat, or fish. Some of the common ingredients include spam, pork, egg, bean sprouts, and bitter melon. Spam is not typically used in mainland Japan but Okinawan cuisine uses spam due to the influence from the US Navy.

    Growing up in Yokohama (Tokyo area) between the 70’s and 90’s, Okinawan restaurants were rare to find and I had never had a chance to try Okinawan dish.

    Through NHK TV drama “Churasan” (ちゅらさん) broadcasted in 2001, many people became interested in Okinawan culture and visited Okinawa on vacation. The popularity of Okinawan food spread all over in mainland Japan, and we started to see more Okinawan restaurants popping up everywhere. Even Japanese housewives started to cook Okinawan dishes at home.

    Goya Champuru on the plate and glass of ice tea.

    5 Health Benefits of Bitter Melon

    1. Treats Skin Condition

    Bitter melon juice has powerful antioxidants with Vitamin C and A, which prevents premature skin aging, diminishes wrinkles, reduces acne, and helps in treating eczema. The amount of vitamin C in bitter melon is four times more than lemon and five times than tomatoes. Usually vitamins get lost by being cooked, but not for bitter melon, which is why it’s perfect to cook Goya Champuru!

    2. Lowers Bad Cholesterol Levels

    Studies have shown the juice from bitter melon significantly reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke, and keeps your heart healthy.

    3. Helps in Maintaining Blood Sugar Levels

    Studies have also shown that eating bitter melon on regular basis reduces the blood sugar level for patients suffering from type-1 and type-2 diabetes significantly.

    4. Prevents Cancer

    In those bitter flavors, there are components that reduce blood sugar level and cholesterol. Studies have also shown positive correlations between eating bitter melon and the prevention or reduction in tumor growth for cervical, prostate, and breast cancer patients.

    5. Boosts Your Immune System

    Bitter melon is a source of many different antioxidants that make it a powerful defense mechanism against illnesses in the body.

    Goya Champuru on the plate with glass of ice tea.

    Helpful Tips on How to Choose, Store and Cook Bitter Melon

    1. How to choose the freshest bitter melon:

    Bitter melon’s season in Japan is from July to September. You can also find bitter melon being available at farmers markets or Asian grocery stores in the US these days. For the best taste, choose bitter melon in relatively smaller size with lots of bumps. The surface should have a fresh shiny green and you want to pick one that feels firm to the touch.

    2. How to store:

    To keep bitter melon fresh for a longer time, remove the seeds and pith first as they go bad quickly. Make sure you remove the inner white pith clean as that’s where the bitterness most concentrates. After slicing, you can store them in airtight container in the refrigerator for later use.

    3. How to reduce bitterness:

    I learned to sprinkle some salt, but I also heard that enhances the bitterness instead. Some suggests to cook in a lightly salted boiling water, then again I heard the method also causes bitterness. I assume everyone’s grandma suggests different things and you just need to try out the method that works for you. I use the salt method as it draws out moisture with some bitter flavors.

    This amazing gourd may have an acquired taste, there are plenty of good reasons to eat it. In this homey Okinawan stir fry, crunchy crisp bitter melon is combined with soft creamy tofu and cooked in a delicious umami-rich dashi and soy sauce seasoning. It’s truly a healthy and everyday meal you can serve for the family. I’d like you to give it a try.

    Do you have any experiences cooking with bitter gourd (goya)? What are your favorite ways of cooking with it? How do you remove the bitterness of the gourd? Share with us in the comment below!

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    4.5 from 20 votes
    Goya Champuru ゴーヤチャンプル | Easy Japanese Recipes at
    Goya Champuru
    Prep Time
    20 mins
    Cook Time
    20 mins
    Total Time
    40 mins
    Okinawa's most iconic Goya Champuru is a stir fry dish with bitter melon, tofu, egg, and pork belly. This popular savory dish is a truly rustic yet well-balanced meal to served with steamed rice and a side of miso soup.
    Course: Main Course
    Cuisine: Japanese
    Keyword: bitter melon, okinawan food
    Servings: 2
    Author: Namiko Chen
    • 1 bitter melon (8 oz, 227 g)
    • 1 tsp kosher/sea salt (I use Diamond Crystal; Use half for table salt) (for bitter melon)
    • 14 oz medium-firm tofu
    • 6 slices sliced pork belly
    • 2 large eggs (50 g each w/o shell)
    • 2 ½ Tbsp neutral-flavored oil (vegetable, canola, etc) (divided)
    • ¼ tsp kosher/sea salt (I use Diamond Crystal; Use half for table salt)
    • tsp freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
    Katsuo Dashi
    1. Gather all the ingredients.
      Goya Champuru Ingredients
    To Prepare Ingredients
    1. Add the katsuobushi (bonito flakes) into a measuring cup and add ¼ cup boiling water. Let it steep until you’re ready to cook. Right before you start stir-frying, strain and remove katsuobushi (and make homemade furikake rice seasoning).

      Goya Champuru 5
    2. Cut the bitter melon in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds and scrape off the inner white pith.

      Goya Champuru 1
    3. Slice into ⅛ inch (3-4 mm) thickness. Sprinkle 1 tsp kosher salt and combine well. Let stand for 10 minutes.

      Goya Champuru 2
    4. After 10 minutes, quickly rinse the bitter melon with water and drain well. I use a salad spinner so I can get rid of the moisture easily.

      Goya Champuru 3
    5. Meanwhile, wrap the tofu with paper towel and place a heavy flat object (like a cutting board) on top of the tofu to squeezes out water. I use flat trays sandwiching the tofu and placed a marble mortar on top.

      Goya Champuru 4
    6. Cut your pork belly slices into small bites, about 1 ½ inch (3.8 cm)pieces.

      Goya Champuru 6
    7. Beat the eggs in a medium bowl and tear up the tofu into bite-size pieces with your hands.

      Goya Champuru 7
    To Cook
    1. Heat a large frying pan and add 1 Tbsp oil and put tofu in the pan.
      Goya Champuru 8
    2. Try not to touch the tofu frequently and cook until the tofu is browned and moisture has evaporated. Transfer to a plate.

      Goya Champuru 9
    3. Add 1 Tbsp oil to the same frying pan. Add and spread the bitter melon.

      Goya Champuru 10
    4. Sprinkle kosher salt and stir fry until almost cooked. Transfer to a plate.
      Goya Champuru 11
    5. Add ½ Tbsp oil and add the pork belly. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir fry until nice and golden brown.

      Goya Champuru 12
    6. Add the bitter melon and the tofu back to the frying pan.
      Goya Champuru 13
    7. Add katsuo dashi and 1 Tbsp soy sauce and let the liquid evaporate while you toss to combine.

      Goya Champuru 14
    8. Taste and add kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper if necessary. Instead of adding more soy sauce, use salt to enhance the flavor.

      Goya Champuru 15
    9. Add the beaten eggs and add to the frying pan. Shake the pan to cook the egg and once egg is no longer runny, turn off the heat.

      Goya Champuru 16
    10. Transfer to a plate and sprinkle more katsuobushi (bonito flakes). Enjoy!

      Goya Champuru 17
    To Store
    1. You can keep the leftovers in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for a month.

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