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stir-fried-Stir Fried Bitter Melon Stir Fried Bitter Melon ingredients Stir Fried Bitter Melon preperation Stir Fried Bitter Melon recipe

Hi Guys! It’s really beginning to feel like summer in LA. I have mixed feelings about this. I love the idea of summer. I love the beach, bbq’s, going to a park to play bocce-ball, shaved ice….I love all that stuff. Things I’m not such a fan of: the heat, mosquitos, the heat, loads of “summer” kids everywhere (yep, I said it), the heat….do you see a pattern here? I wish I could have an amazing attitude about it, but man…nothing’s worse than sitting and doing absolutely nothing and sweating profusely…just because of the weather…and then having to peel yourself off a leather couch?…UGH. Can you tell I’m a little stressed about the heat? I would love to have a positive attitude about it, but I’m a̶ ̶b̶r̶a̶t̶ scared.

I think I was scarred the first year I lived in LA County, in Pasadena. It was so devastatingly hot and the wall a/c unit wasn’t doing the trick, so my boyfriend and I often found ourselves perusing the CVS up the block, for HOURS, just to take advantage of their central air…it was a sad time.

In a bit of irony, here’s a stir-fried bitter melon dish for you all today! :) Okay, this one isn’t so bad because although it uses high heat, it cooks up fast. Also, I always try to start the summer off with a healthy food kick (that usually lasts for about 3 days) and this year I’m doing it by cooking up a bunch of different veg. in a number of ways. I had always seen bitter melon at the market, but had never tried it. I assumed it would be bitter (duh, right?), but I didn’t realize just how bitter….My mistake for taking it home and trying to eat it like a raw cucumber. The second I took a bite it felt as if my cheeks were being sucked into my brain and my mouth immediately dried out.

One and a half days later I braved bitter melon again. I decided to stir fry it to remove some of the bitter taste (that was pretty much my only goal at that point). I used a combination of oyster sauce, fish sauce and sugar to draw out the bitter and to impart other flavors to it. Success. The results were a still bitter, but a much more mellow tasting dish that was actually pleasant and developed the texture of a cooked summer squash, soft and juicy. Now I know fish sauce is really scary for some people (I can drink the stuff from the bottle, while the boyfriend gets one whiff and wants to vom then pass out), but thats okay! You can omit the oyster sauce and fish sauce and replace it with a red wine or sherry vinegar. You’ll get the same bitterness cutting effect without the fishy flavor. It’s really nice to have this dish with something slightly fatty like crispy pork belly because they balance each other nicely.

If you’re feeling bold or bored…or just trying to avoid the heat outside go peruse your local market and pick up that weird veg. that reminds you of an alien and try it out! It a scary veg. can be turned into something quite lovely! Enjoy! xx, Jenny

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Stir Fried Bitter Melon
Serves 4 to 6

2 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 dried Thai chile
1 shallot, minced
3 bitter melon, cut in half lengthwise, seeds scooped out and thinly sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
2 1/2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon granulated sugar (can sub with 2 teaspoons honey)
salt and pepper to taste
thinly sliced green onions
micro greens, optional

1. Pour oils into wok or skillet and place over high heat.
2. Add chile and fry for 1 minute.
3. Add shallots and sauté for 2 minutes. Add bitter melon and saute for 3 minutes. Add bell peppers and garlic and continue to sauté for an additional 3 minutes.
4. Pour oyster sauce over mixture and toss together. Sprinkle fish sauce and sugar over mixture and continue to sauté until sugar dissolves. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Sprinkle with green onions and micro greens (if using) and serve.

  1. Megan Not Specified Not Specified

    It’s like a salad filled with smiles! Just sayin’.

  2. Olga Not Specified Not Specified

    You described, almost exctly, the path I went when met bitter melon for a first time.. I’m still hesitant to make it permanent on our menu. Well, some doctors say we need to eat more bitter tasting vegetables so…good try! Cheers to your bravery! BTW.. I’m new here – I love it!

  3. Angie Not Specified Not Specified

    Looks like an interesting recipe and I`m sure it is delicious as well, a perfect recipe for a long and hot summer, healthy and energizing , thanks for sharing this with us, really special

  4. Tieghan Not Specified Not Specified

    Haha! I can not believe you live in LA and hate the heat! We can swap places if you like? Hehe!

    This looks amazing! So my kind of dish!

  5. Christine Not Specified Not Specified

    I love bitter melon! Whenever we cook it at home, my mom always tells me to blanch it first to draw out some of the bitterness. :)

  6. kal Not Specified Not Specified

    where my grandpa is from, bitter melon is thought to have medicinal qualities. And my grandpa loves medicinal foods.

    he soaks it in cold salted water for about 40min-1hr, rinses in, and rehydrates in a bit in cold water, pats dry and stir fries it. ends up a lot less bitter, but still retains that zucchini-cucumber-y texture. yum!

  7. Connie Not Specified Not Specified

    I don’t mind the LA heat, thankfully it is usually not very humid. Bitter melon isn’t often seen on many dinner tables, but it did grace mine growing up. Grandma would slice it thin and salt it like you would eggplant to lessen the bitterness.

  8. mieke Zamora-Mackay Not Specified Not Specified

    I make this all the time. My secret to cutting the bitterness is to soak the thinly sliced bitter melon in salted water for about 30 mins before cooking it. Before using it, throw out the water and since the slices in water. Then when you add the melon into the pan, resist the urge to stir it in the pan, just toss it in the pan. This is a guaranteed way of cutting the bitterness, making it a favorite in my house.

  9. Jordyn Not Specified Not Specified

    Oh, the sneaky bitter melon! It’s a local favorite here in Okinawa, Japan, and is mixed into stir fries called “Goya Chanpuru,” which is just a fancy name for stir fry with the bitter melon. Mixing it with fried/sautéed tofu, egg, pork and carrots seems to be the combination that graces the menus of every greasy spoon around here. Your version looks pretty tasty! I’ll have to give it a try soon :)

  10. Annie Not Specified Not Specified

    Trying making an omelette with it, tastes yummy too.

    Or make a clear soup with it. Soup stock, sliced bitter melon, quartered tomatoes and stir in some beaten egg. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

  11. Peter Not Specified Not Specified

    When do you put the mellon in would help I cant believe someone would write a recipe and leave out the most important ingreident Shame Shame on you

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