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Bitter Melon Stir Fry

Bitter melon and ground pork is a classic pairing made extra tasty in this easy stir fry. We season with oyster sauce, fish sauce, and soy sauce, a crowd pleasing combination of flavors! Don’t forget the garlic and black pepper. Enjoy with rice.

A plate of Bitter Melon Stir Fry, ready to eat.
Bitter Melon Stir Fry, ready to eat.

Why This Recipe Works

Bitter melon and pork! This is a truly onolicious combo.

It’s saucy and packed with flavor, so delicious served hot from the pan with a big bowl of rice. The two main ingredients are bitter melon and ground pork. We add black pepper and lots of garlic (the more the merrier).

Then we season with three key sauces:

These three sauces are staples in our kitchen pantry and we can purchase them at all markets in Hawaii (even Costco Hawaii and our local drugstore, Longs Drugs).

At least one of these sauces appear in the most of the savory recipes on the blog so it’s worth keeping all three in your pantry.

And that’s all you need to make this dish! Most people refer to this as a Chinese bitter melon recipe, but it’s more a Chinese dish, Vietnamese dish, and local Hawaii dish. It’s a real melting pot type of dish, which is like so much of the food we are lucky to eat and enjoy in Hawaii ^_^

Three whole bitter melons on a plate.
Bitter Melon! ^_^

Bitter Melon

Bitter Melon is one of my favorite vegetables! It has a reputation for being bitter haha, but that’s exactly why I love it. I love edge, that bite. But also the tender texture and sweet flavors. It’s quite beautiful to look at.

There are many different ways to cook bitter melon. My grandma makes a wonderful bitter melon and pork soup when I come for dinner. Goya Champuru (Okinawan Bitter Melon Stir Fry) is a popular dish which you can find at Okinawan restaurants in Hawaii (or cook at home). For quick weekday lunches, I love to make Bitter Melon and Egg Stir Fry. It’s so fast and easy. Tasty and feels very nourishing.

To prepare bitter melon all you need to do is trim off the pointy ends then cut the bitter melon in half lengthwise. Use a small spoon to scrape out the pith and seeds. Then slice the bitter melon thinly and you’ll have all these pretty half moon pieces ready for cooking.

Ingredients for Bitter Melon Stir Fry (bitter melon, ground pork, garlic, soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce, and black pepper) laid out on a table.
Ingredients for Bitter Melon Stir Fry.

Ingredients

Here’s what you’ll need:

That’s it! Aside from the bitter melon (which we usually get in Chinatown or any big Asian supermarket), the rest of the ingredients are pantry staples.

Adding sliced bitter melon to the pan with ground pork.
Bitter Melon Stir Fry, almost done cooking.

Step by Step Directions

Let’s get cooking!

Prepare the bitter melon.
Cut off both ends of the bitter melon (about ½ inch on each end). Then slice it in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to core out the pith and seeds. Slice the bitter melon into thin ¼ inch slices. Set aside.

Brown the garlic.
Brown garlic in a large pan over medium-high heat.

Brown the ground pork.
Once the garlic is golden and fragrant, add the pork and cook for about 2 minutes, until the pork is browned.Push the pork and garlic mixture to one side of the pan.

Cook the bitter melon.
Add the prepared bitter melon to the other side of the pan. Add ¼ cup of water to the bitter melon. Put the lid on the pan and let cook for 3-4 minutes until the bitter melon is tender.

Mix and season.
Remove the lid. Gently mix the bitter melon and pork. Add the oyster sauce, fish sauce, soy sauce, and black pepper to the pan. Mix and cook for another minute.

Time to eat.
Then it’s ready to eat! Serve hot with a big bowl of rice.

Bitter melons sliced in half lengthwise on a plate.
Don’t forget to remove seeds and pith from the bitter melon.

FAQs and Tips

How long does this dish keep?

It keeps 2-3 days in the refrigerator. Just microwave or steam to reheat.

Love bitter melon?

If you’re looking for a bitter melon egg recipe, make sure to check out this post for Bitter Melon and Egg Stir Fry.

Looking for more recipes with fish sauce?

You’ve come to the right place! Here are a few go-to dishes:
– Garlic and Fish Sauce Eggplant – One my all time favorite dishes!
– Garlic and Fish Sauce Ong Choy – Cannot go wrong with this gem.
– Stir Fried Lettuce – Easy to prepare especially when you have leftover lettuce you want to use up.
– Thit Kho (Vietnamese Braised Pork and Eggs) – Make in big batches! So good for a big family dinner (or lunch/dinner prep for the week).
– Cha Trung (Vietnamese Egg Meatloaf) – A Vietnamese classic.

A plate of Bitter Melon Stir Fry, ready to eat.
Bitter Melon Stir Fry, ready to eat.

Bitter Melon Stir Fry Recipe

See below and enjoy ^_^

A plate of Bitter Melon Stir Fry, ready to eat.

Bitter Melon Stir Fry

Yield: 2 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Bitter melon and ground pork is a classic pairing made extra tasty in this easy dish. The stir fry is seasoned with garlic, oyster sauce, fish sauce, and soy sauce, a great and crowd pleasing combination of flavors. Don't forget the black pepper! Enjoy with rice.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Prepare the bitter melon. Cut off both ends of the bitter melon (about ½ inch on each end). Then slice it in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to core out the pith and seeds. Slice the bitter melon into thin ¼ inch slices. Set aside.
  2. Brown garlic in a large pan over medium-high heat.
  3. Once the garlic is golden and fragrant, add the pork and cook for about 2 minutes, until the pork is browned.
  4. Push the pork and garlic mixture to one side of the pan. Add the prepared bitter melon to the other side of the pan. Add ¼ cup of water to the bitter melon. Put the lid on the pan and let cook for 3-4 minutes until the bitter melon is tender.
  5. Remove the lid. Gently mix the bitter melon and pork. Add the oyster sauce, fish sauce, soy sauce, and black pepper to the pan. Mix and cook for another minute.
  6. Then it’s ready to eat! Serve hot with a big bowl of rice.
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