The Okinawan Goya Chanpouru - Bitter, but Better!

The Okinawans are known to be one of the longest-living populations in the world. According to a documentary by National Geographic, it is thought that the way of life and the things they eat contribute to their longevity. The Goya Chanpouru (ゴーヤチャンプルー) is one such food.

The Goya Chanpouru. Copyright: liza5450

The Okinawan chanpouru is considered a healthy dish due to its combination of nutritious and fresh ingredients, such as vegetables, tofu, and sometimes fish or meat. It typically consists of stir-fried vegetables, tofu, and protein, seasoned with soy sauce and a variety of local spices and herbs.

The vegetables used in a chanpouru are often colorful and rich in antioxidants and fiber, which can help improve digestion and maintain a healthy weight. Tofu, on the other hand, is a good source of plant-based protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and iron. The consumption of fish or lean meats in chanpouru provides additional protein and beneficial nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B12, which are essential for good health.

It is then no wonder that the Okinawans have one of the longest life expectancies in the world, and their healthy diet, which includes chanpouru, has been credited as one of the factors behind their health and longevity. Therefore, the chanpouru can be considered a healthy dish due to its nutrient-rich ingredients and its potential benefits.

As Muslims, we believe that despite all efforts to stay young, vital, and gain increased longevity, all who live will at some point leave this world. All who live will only take that which he has been allocated in this life - no more, and no less. Causes of death are merely guises to one's end in life. Hence, if you get to live until 100, you really are blessed with a long life :)

The following is a vegan chonpouru. In some recipes, they add eggs and meat. So, feel free to modify!


  • Bitter melon / bitter gourd - 1
  • Block of firm tofu - 1
  • Onion - a quarter
  • Red bell pepper - half, sliced (optional) 
  • Coconut aminos - 1 tablespoon
  • Apple juice or rice vinegar added with a pinch of sugar - this is to substitute mirin, an alcoholic sauce that is usually found in some Japanese cuisines and is not halal for consumption - 1 tablespoon
  • Sea salt - 1 teaspoon (plus more for brine)
  • Garlic powder or just the minced garlic itself - 1 teaspoon
  • Onion powder or just the onion itself - 1 teaspoon
  • Sesame seeds to taste 

How to Make

  1. Add your veggies and bitter melon slices to a non-stick pan on medium high heat, cook for 4-5 minutes. 
  2. Crumble your tofu into the pan and toss to combine, cook for 1 minute. 
  3. Add your spices and stir to combine, cook for 1 minute. 
  4. Add your liquids and stir to incorporate, cook for 5 minutes. 
  5. Once the tofu is nicely browned, turn off the heat and serve the dish over steamed rice. Enjoy!
This recipe was taken and slightly modified from Cultivator Kitchen - Vegan Goya Chanpuru & How to Prepare Bitter Melon.


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