Hai Sai! Welcome to my Blog.

Hello, my name is Tom Corrao and I am the blogger behind the Okinawaology Blog. I created this blog to share and discuss all things Okinawan. I’m also the Public Relations Officer and Minkan Taishi to the Chicago Okinawa Kenjinkai. My experience with Okinawa is derived from the time I spent there during the 1980's and 90's (10 years) when serving in the United States Air Force. I've also been married to an Okinawan woman for 30 years now and have been immersed in many things Okinawan through both friends and family. I do not claim to be all knowing about everything Okinawan but I try hard and study the history and culture. I welcome everyone that is interested in Okinawa and hope that I can provide useful information to those uchinanchu that may be curious about their culture and heritage. I also welcome those who are not of Okinawan heritage but have experienced, or are experiencing, the islands culture while stationed there with the United States Military. Comments are welcomed and will be published as long as they are in good taste and on track with the purpose of this blog. My hope with this blog is to bring Uchinanchu people around the world a little closer to their cultural roots by expressing information that has started to fade in light of a more modern world. We should never forget our culture or the people who came before us and through the Blog my intentions are to meld the old with the new and implant knowledge that will help maintain the traditions and culture of an island people.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Goya Recipes! Bitter Melon on Your Plate.

Okay as promised here are several Goya recipes for all cooking types out there. Goya Champuru is a staple food during the islands long hot summers. Grown as a fruit but used as a vegetable, the Bitter Melon is actually a member of the squash family. Resembling a long, bumpy cucumber, Bitter Melon can be found in Asian and East Indian cooking. From 5-12 inches in length, the grooved yellow-green to dark green skin of the Bitter Melon gives way to a fibrous, seed-filled core. Its slightly sour flavor becomes quite bitter upon ripening. This bitter or quinine flavor (a bitter alkaloid) is often combined with garlic or chile. Once thought to contain medicinal qualities, in some parts of China, Bitter Melon is still used to purify the blood and cool the digestive system. Bitter Melon can be stuffed, curried or pickled. Choose melons that are still green for optimal bitterness. They can be stored loose in a paper or plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Goya Champuru - 1


  • 3 cups Goya Bitter Melon

  • Sea Salt

  • 2 Tbs. Olive Oil

  • 1 block of firm or extra firm Tofu - Drained and cubed into 1/2" squares

  • 2 eggs

  • 1/2 lb cooked Pork or Spam thinly sliced

  • 1 Tbs. Soy sauce

  • 1 tsp. Hondashi or Konbudashi - Granulated Bonito Stock

Wash and cut Goya in half lengthwise and remove the seeds with a spoon. Cut Goya into thin slices so they look like small cresent moons. Sprinkle salt over the goya in a bowl and let sit for 10 minutes or more. The salt helps draw moisture from the fruit. Wash the fruit in a strainer under running water. Next squeeze the moisture out of the goya allowing the juice to be removed. This will remove some of the bitterness of the goya. Place the olive oil in a wok or large frying pan and bring the temprature up to high. Saute' the tufu until it browns and set it to the side. Add more oil to the same pan and saute' the goya. Once the goya reaches the desired degree of cooking (crisp or vell cooked) add the beaten eggs and stir fry for a few minutes. near the end add the tofu you prepared, meat, soy sauce, and hondashi. Mix well being careful not to break up the tofu too much. Serve warm and enjoy.

Goya Champuru - 2


  • 1/2 block Organic Tofu (use Firm Tofu)

  • 1 whole Bitter Melon

  • 1/2 whole Onion

  • 1 tablespoon Canola Oil

  • 1/3 can Tuna

  • 1/3 cup Bonito Flakes

  • Sea Salt to taste

  • Soy Sauce to taste

  • 1 whole Egg beaten

Drain tofu and pat dry, squeezing out some of moisture. Cut bitter melon lengthwise and remove seeds with a spoon. Cut into ¼-inch slices or thinner. Slice onion thinly.

Heat oil in a frying pan or wok over high heat. Break tofu into pieces by hand and add to frying pan. Fry until lightly browned. Add bitter melon and onion and toss with tofu. Add tuna and bonito flakes and sprinkle with a little sea salt. Add beaten egg and soy sauce and stir. Cook until eggs are set.

A Funny Video of Cooking Goya Champuru

Tom & Nozomi's Goya Champuru Variations

The recipe above is a basic recipe for Goya champuru. The word champuru translated however means "Mix" and there are many variations to what can be combined in the dish. The important part is that you like the taste of what you end up with in the end.

Nozomi recommends adding sweet onions like vidalias. Cut the onion cut into cresents and sweet carrots cut into long julian cuts. The carrots and onion will add sweetness to the stirfry and weaken the bitterness of the goya.

Tom likes to add 2 Tbs. of awamori or saki instead of adding the Hondashi. This eliminates the MSG factor and increases the healthyness of the dish.

Prepared pork for stir fry - Use lean pork loin. Place loin slices into a quart size ziplock bag. Grate 2 tsp. of fresh Ginger into the bag. Add 2 Tbs. saki, 1 Tbs. Sugar, 2 Tbs. Soy Sauce, and 1 Tbs. Mirin (Optional) then seal the bag carefully removing as much of the air as possible before sealing. Mix throughly for 3 - 5 minutes and then let sit in the refridgerator for at least 30 minutes. Fry in a hot pan after marinade. Discard the excess marinade. Cut pork into strips and set aside to add to goya champuru.

Beef & Bitter Melon Stir Fry


  • 1 pound Bitter Melon

  • 1 tablespoon Peanut Oil

  • 3 cloves Organic Garlic coarsely chopped

  • 1/2 pound Flank Steak cut into stir fry strips 

  • 2 tablespoons Light Soy Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon Rice Wine or Dry Sherry

  • 1 teaspoon Salt

  • 1 teaspoon Sugar

  • 3 tablespoons Chicken Stock or Water

  • 2 tablespoons Dark Sesame Oil

Slice the bitter melon in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds and finely chop the melon. Blanch the bitter melon in boiling water for 2 minutes and drain thoroughly. Heat a wok or large frying pan over high heat until it is hot. Add the oil and the garlic, and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the beef and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add the soy sauce, rice wine, sugar, salt, bitter melon, and stock, and stir-fry for another 4 minutes, or until the beef is cooked. Stir in the sesame oil, turn onto a serving platter, and serve.

Goya Salad


  • 3 cups Goya (Bitter Melon)

  • 1 large Chicken Breast

  • 1/4 cup Sake

  • 2 oz thinly sliced Carrots

  • 1 stalk thinly sliced Celery

  • 1 tsp. Sea salt

  • Pinch of Black Pepper

  • 6 Tbs. Olive Oil

  • 4 Tbs. Vinegar

  • 1 Tbs. Grated Onion

  • 1 Tbs. Tomatoe Ketchup
Soak thin sliced goya in ice water for five minutes. Use younger smaller Goya if available to decrease the bitterness. drain well after soaking. Marinade Chicken with Sake & salt in a zip lock bag for 30 minutes. After marinade steam the chicken until thoroughly cooked. Set it aside and allow it to cool. When cool prepare for salad by shredding it by hand. Make the dressing by combining oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, onion, and ketchup in a bowl. The final step is to mix all of the remaining ingredients in a large salad bowl until throughly mixed. This should be done when all ingriedients are cool. Enjoy this refreshing salad.

 Here are some links to recipes from around the world using Bitter Melon


  1. Hey! An Okinawan dish without pork in it!

    I'm excited to go try out this tuna goya chanpuru recipe.

    Thanks much for sharing it!!

  2. hi
    I see in your blog that you know very much about okinawa culture.
    I am very interesting in traditional and real (this is important for my) okinawa diet, I want learn about ingredients, recipes, the net there are many lies (okinawa diet is vegetarian, okinawa people eat a lot of pig every days.......), well,
    ¿can you answer me some questions about REAL okinawa diet?

    thanks, I await your responce

  3. What are your questions? Of course Okinawan diet is not strictly vegetarian. They introduce meat and fish also but in moderation. I would suggest the book called the Okinawa program by Wilcox, Wilcox, and Suzuki. It is a truthful book about how okinawans eat. Healthy and colorful. Pork "Yes" but many times after boiling and skimming much of the fat. Fish a healthy protein and even Goat meat on occassion.

  4. in first place, thanks for your response.

    I know how cooking pig, I read your page, the first place that tells the true

    I dont have the books of Wilcox, Wilcox, and Suzuki but I will have.

    ok, I start with my questions:

    - the okinawa diet Food Pyramid:, frecuency, ingredients, amounts... is correct? in some webs say no

    - cereals: oats, rice, wheat, corn... are used in okinawa?

    I have more question, but are for another post, I think It is better go slowly

  5. Traditionally, Rice of course. In modern times oats corn and rice in moderation of course. The pyrimid for the Okinawa diet was divised after a lengthly study by the wilcox brothers and was averaged to come up with the general make up of the pyrimid. Remember 100 years before the study took place Okinawa had sparse resources and people lived a life of subsistance on foods that were available to them. These foods required one to remain active by farming and gathering.

  6. I am interested in traditional diet without western intervention and contributions.

    white or whole rice??

    can you give me a percentage about amount of cereals intake per day in the tradicional oki-diet?

    fruit..what can you tell me about It?, dairy, amount, type......

    I hope not to bother

  7. Good luck. It's not really western intervention it is modern times that make the difference in the diet today. People anywhere can get just about any food with very little difficulty in modern society. Even on a tiny island.

    I would say traditionally the diet provided for a bowl of medium grain white rice with most meals. But remember Okinawa was a trading hub in the Pacific and east China seas. They traded everything available to them and one of those thing was probably rice. Even the rice that they make Awamori (Okinawan Sake) from was from Thailand and still is today. I would say that there were probably other types of rice available to them. Some may have been brown.

    When the triangle speaks of cereals there weren't any. But there were grains such as millet and barley that were added to rice. They even have a tea in Okinawa called Mugicha that is made from Barley. In the old times it was a cool drink on a summer day. Today we have sugar free Kool aid. Times have changed. Dairy was limited because there were only oxen, water buffalo, and goats. Modern times there is milk and it is expensive even though some islands in the ryukyu's have cattle now.

  8. Thank you for your delicious sounding recipes. My husband and I just recently made the military move to Okinawa and I am eager to try new recipes to add to our diet with all the interesting new fruits, vegetables, and meats they have out in town. Do you have any recipes using octopus or squid?

  9. I have a question for you. I actually love the taste of bitter melon as an alternative to our overly sweet-focused culture we have here in the west. I have learned to appreciate that flavours other than sweet - such as sour or bitter - are equally valid and enjoyable if we just try (so I don't try to eliminate the bitter with salt or sugar, as I believe the bitterness is part of what's healthy about goya). I also like to use the whole food wherever possible - most bitter melon recipes call for removing and discarding the pith and seeds inside the melon, which seems like a waste. I have actually cooked these separately with seasonings and oil and used them to flavour other dishes, but then I read somewhere that the seeds may be toxic. Is that true? Since Okinawans are knowledgeable about Goya because they use it so much, can you ask your Okinawan elders what they might know about this? Much appreciated. Lisa