What is Goya?


Do you know what “Goya” is guys? Bitter melon is called “Goya” in Okinawan dialect. The goya you watch on TV in Japan is a vine-like annual plant categorized as a gourd-type (cucurbitaceous) and the botanical name is “Momordica charantia Linn.” Its Japanese name is “Nigauri” or “Tsurureishi.” It is green, has bumps and is a bitter tasting vegetable. There must be few people who have had them before, aren’t they?


[Goya Chanpuru (stir-fried Goya)]

When it comes to Goya dishes, “Goya Chanpuru” is famous. If you’ve had it before, you know that we eat the dark green bumpy parts of Goya. The seeds also include a lot of nutrition, but we don’t normally eat them because they are hard. Since the Goya are bitter even after cooking, some people don’t like the bitterness. Even in Okinawa, there are some children who don’t really like Goya, but they are a classic ingredient for summer dishes. Why do you think that is? It’s because the Goya is not just a bitter vegetable, it is rich in nutrition. The power of Goya is well known as a lot of Okinawan people answer the question “What dish is effective for heat fatigue?” with “It’s Goya Chanpuru!” Compared with other food, 100 grams of Goya has four times the vitamin C of cabbage and two to three times the vitamin C of lemon. On top of that, vitamin C in other vegetables is often weakened when heated, whereas the vitamin C in Goya will not easily be broken by heating, so we can get vitamin C from Goya properly when it’s cooked, too. Furthermore, Goya have a wide variety of nutritional elements as can be seen in the table as follows:

Analysis institution
Okinawa Industrial Technology Center (the ex-Okinawa Agricultural Experiment Station) Unit: mg

Contrast Vitamin Calcium Phosphorus Iron Sodium Potassium
Raw Goya 120 14 30 0.4 260
Goya tea 55 250 640 10.9 16 4000
Reference food Lemon
Green laver
Dried horse mackerel

[The flower of Goya]

You may not like the bitterness of Goya at first, but if you continue eating them, you will change and say “the bitterness is yummy” one day. Some people will not be satisfied when the Goya are less bitter. In Okinawa, we plant seeds sometime between February and March, the vine stretches out on a 1.8m high trellis and the yellow flowers come out. Then, we crop them from May to August generally. The Goya themselves carry with it an image of summer, that could be because of the crop time.

Please have a look at our blog for more information about Goya.