Goya champuru is a famous stir fry dish made with Okinawan bitter melon. It's a popular homecooked dish all across Japan due to it's unusual bitter, yet refreshing taste. It's also quick and easy to make!
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What is goya champuru?
Goya champuru is a homely dish in which Okinawan bitter melon (goya) is stir-fried with island tofu (Okinawan firm tofu) and eggs to make the flavour softer and easier to eat, it is a delicious dish that you can eat every day and not get tired of it. In Japan, Goya Champuru is so well known throughout the country that it is the first dish that immediately comes to mind when we think of Okinawan cuisine.
The word "Champuru" means "jumbled" in the Okinawan dialect, and is a dish made with tofu and a variety of other ingredients. When using goya (bitter melon), it becomes "goya champuru," and when using māminā (Okinawan dialect for beansprouts), it is called "māminā champuru," so the name of the ingredient used is prefixed to the champuru. By the way, the word "champuru" is said to be derived from the Malay or Indonesian word "campur".
Since island tofu is difficult to obtain outside of Okinawa, it is often substituted with regular firm tofu.
What is goya/bitter melon?
Goya (also known as bitter melon) is a cucurbitaceous plant whose unripe green fruits are mainly used as a vegetable. This vegetable has been eaten in Okinawa since old times, and its strong bitterness is both its appeal and also a reason why children dislike it. The seeds and florets have a strong bitterness, so make sure to remove them with a spoon.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries' Annual Production of Regional Specialty Vegetables (2020), goya shipments totaled 17,900 tons nationwide, with Okinawa (6,070 tons), Miyazaki (2,600 tons), and Kagoshima (1,670 tons) as the main production areas. Most production areas in Japan are in the south.
Goya champuru can be made with a wide variety of ingredients, including vegetables that are easily available or can be harvested in a home garden, or with ingredients that are already in your fridge. After all, "chanpuru" means "jumbled".
Apart from goya, vegetables such as cabbage, onions, carrots, and bean sprouts, tofu, pork, corned beef, and eggs are often used.
But in this recipe, I use following ingredients:
See recipe card for details and quantities.
I know goya is not that common vegetable to get around the world, so here is the list of substitute vegetables that you can use to replace goya:
Or you can use your local favourite vegetable to make your own kind of champuru!
How to prep goya to soften the bitterness
I have to admit goya is one of the most bitter vegetables I have had in my whole life, but in a way, the bitterness is the beauty as well as long as it's not too much.
So in this section, I will explain how to soften the bitterness of goya to give it the best flavour!
Step 1: Cut it in half lengthways and remove the seeds
First of all, wash the goya, cut off a little at both ends, and cut them in half lengthwise. After that, remove the inside using spoon.
However, since the inside has less bitterness than the outer green part, it is not necessary to remove it so completely so don't worry about getting every last bit here.
Step 2: Cut it into 5mm slices
Next, cut the goya into slices with the cut end facing down to stop it from rolling. For goya chanpuru, slicing with a width of about 5mm is just right. If cut too thin, the texture will be lost, and if cut too thick, the bitter taste will become stronger and more obvious, so it is important to cut at just the right thickness.
Step 3: Rub salt and sugar in
Next, rub the sliced goya with salt and sugar. Then, after rubbing it in thoroughly with your hands, leave it in place for 10 minutes. When ten minutes are up, rinse it in a bowl of cold water.
Instructions on how to make homemade goya champuru
Goya champuru is an easy dish to make, but here are a few important steps to cook each ingredient to perfection!
Prepare the tofu
To improve the texture of the tofu for stir frying, you need to remove the excess liquid. To do this, I wrap it in kitchen paper and microwave it for 1 ½ minutes at 600W.
Fry the tofu separately
Next, we stir fry the tofu on its own. This allows it to become crispy and turn a beautiful golden colour. By cooking it separately, the fat and liquids from the other ingredients won't interfere with the browning process of the tofu.
I then remove it from the pan and set it aside so that it stays beautiful and doesn't become overcooked!
Brown the pork and add the goya
Using the same pan, I fry the pork belly until it's sealed on both sides and add the sliced goya. Simply stir fry them together for a few minutes.
Then you can add the tofu back in with a pinch of salt and pepper.
Add the egg
Whisk the egg in a separate bowl and pour it into the pan. Don't mix until it's half cooked, this prevents the egg being "lost" in the stir fry. Mix quickly with some soy sauce and remove from the heat. The eggs will continue to cook in the residual heat from the other ingredients, taking it off the stove early prevents overcooked rubbery egg!
For full instructions and ingredient quantities, see the recipe card below!
I hope you enjoy this classic Okinawa style home cooked dish!Print
Step by step recipe
Bitter melon is called Goya (ゴーヤー) or Nigauri (ニガウリ) in Japanese.