Goya (Bitter Melon)-Handama Sunburst Chili Penne

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“Goya (bitter melon) is a very popular food item on island. Hubby loves it. I, on the other hand, have always had trouble with the bitterness. But I don’t give up easily, and after all these years on island decided to try to come up with some recipes that at least gave me a chance to develop a taste for the gourd.”
2hrs 20mins

Ingredients Nutrition

  • 12 bitter melon (goya)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 cups chili (I used my leftover Crockpot Sunburst Chili)
  • spinach leaves (I used handama a.k.a. Okinawan spinach)
  • penne
  • grated parmesan cheese


  1. Gut and slice goya and then soak the slices in sea salt water for two hours. (It is very important to completely remove the white inner membrane and allow time for the salt soak to remove bitterness).
  2. Prepare penne according to directions on package.
  3. Rinse and strain handama.
  4. Strain goya and sauté in sesame oil on medium heat until tender.
  5. Add chili and heat for approximately 10 minutes.
  6. Strain and toss penne with handama.
  7. Plate and ladle on the goya-chili mixture.
  8. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

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