Skip to Content

Stuffed Bitter Melon

Stuffed Bitter Melon is a flavorful and healthy dish. It excellent with rice! We mix ground pork, noodles, and mushrooms for savory filling that gets stuffed into fresh bitter melon. Then cook and eat! Learn tips for reducing the “bitterness” from bitter melon, and how to make this satisfying local Chinese dish.

A plate of stuffed bitter melon, ready to eat.

Why This Recipe Works

Stuffed bitter melon is a local dish that you’ll see pretty often in Hawaii home cooking. It’s cozy, comfy, and most importantly, delicious with a bowl of rice!

We use bitter melon a lot in Chinese and Vietnamese cook so it makes sense that it would show up in many local households.

This is an easy and flexible recipe. Just stuff cut bitter melon with a ground pork filling and then steam. Instead of using a proper steamer, we just put the stuffed bitter melon in a pan and add some water directly into the pan. Makes it a lot easier!

For the filling, we mix shiitake mushrooms and glass noodles with the ground pork. Then season with oyster sauce, sesame oil, and white pepper.

Sometimes we add wood ear mushrooms instead of shiitake mushrooms. Sometimes we use chopped onions instead of glass noodles. Sometimes we also add soy sauce to mixture.

You know how there are a million different types of dumpling and wonton and pork hash fillings you can make? It’s the same idea for this bitter melon filling. Just start with a base of ground pork and work from there ^_^

A plate of fresh bitter melon.

Bitter Melon

Bitter Melon! We grew up eating bitter melon so this is a vegetable I love very much. We drank bitter melon soup on hot summer days (recipe coming soon for that) and made many different versions of bitter melon stir fry (including an Okinawan dish called Goya Champuru).

You can purchase bitter melon at most Asian markets, and even local farmers market! Pick bitter melons that are long, a pretty light green, and more firm than soft. Try getting the straight bitter melons – they curved ones are gorgeous but are harder to cut and remove the insides/seeds because of the curve.

Some people complain that bitter melon is too bitter, but that is actually part of the appeal.

How to cook bitter melon? Easy! To prepare bitter melon for this recipe, we cut the bitter melon into 1-inch long pieces, and then use a spoon or knife to remove and discard the insides/seeds.

If you want to remove some of the bitter flavor, all you have to is sprinkle salt all over the bitter melon (after cutting and removing the insides/seeds), and let it sit for 15 minutes. Then just rinse the bitter melon pieces and it is ready for cooking!

Ingredients for stuffed bitter melon on a table (bitter melon, ground pork, glass noodles, shiitake mushrooms, oyster sauce, sesame oil, and white pepper).
Ingredients for Stuffed Bitter Melon.

Ingredients

These are the ingredients you’ll need to make Stuffed Bitter Melon:

Let’s get cooking!

A plate of bitter melon rounds, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces.
Bitter Melon: cut, seeded, and salted.

Step by Step Directions

Here are the cooking directions with photos. There’s also a printable recipe card at the bottom of this post ^_^

Prepare the dried shiitake mushrooms.
Rinse and place the dried mushrooms in a small bowl. Cover the mushrooms with hot water. Place a cover/lid on top of the bowl (to let the mushrooms rehydrate faster) and set aside for 30 minutes.

Prepare the glass noodles.
Place glass noodles in a bowl and fill the bowl with hot water. Let sit for 5 minutes for the noodles to soften. Then drain the water and cut the noodles into small pieces (about 1-inch long or shorter).

Prepare the bitter melons.
Trim off the ends. Cut the bitter melon into 1-inch pieces. Use a small spoon or knife to remove the insides/seeds.

Place the cut and hollowed bitter melon pieces in a bowl. Sprinkle with salt (about 1 tablespoon) and let sit for 15 minutes.

Then gently rinse the bitter melon with water and let drain. Set aside.

Pro Tip: It’s this salting and rinsing step that helps lighten the bitterness from the bitter melons. You can’t completely remove the bitterness (the bitterness is actually part of the appeal for bitter melon fans!) but this reduces the bitterness significantly.

The ground pork mixture used to fill the stuffed bitter melon.
Mixing the pork filling.

Cut Mushrooms.
Remove the rehydrated shiitake mushrooms from the bowl. Make sure to save the mushroom soaking water, we will use this water in the cooking step. Use a knife to cut the mushrooms into small pieces.

Prepare the pork filling.
In a bowl, mix together the ground pork, cut glass noodles, diced shiitake mushrooms, oyster sauce, sesame oil, and white pepper.

A pan of stuffed bitter melon, ready to be steamed.
Stuffed Bitter Melon, ready to be steamed.

Stuff bitter melon.
Stuff each bitter melon round with a spoonful of the pork filling. We usually do this on cutting board or large plate.

Place the bitter melon round on the cutting board. Use a small spoon to fill the bitter melon with the pork filling. Then place an extra mound of filling on top so that each bitter melon piece has a round, dome shaped top.

Cook the stuffed bitter melon.
Get it a large pan and put it on the stove. Over medium-high heat, add oil to the pan. Gently place all the filled bitter melon pieces upright in the pan, in a single layer.

Pour the mushroom soaking water into the pan (make sure to leave behind any dirt from the mushrooms). Add enough water to reach about one third of the height of the bitter melon pieces.

Bring the liquid to a boil. Place a lid on the pan and let cook on medium heat for 20 minutes. Check the pan every 5 minutes to make sure the liquid hasn’t completely evaporated. If liquid is running low, add more water so that the pan doesn’t burn.

Finish cooking, serve and enjoy.
After the bitter melon is fully cooked (test it with a fork, it will be tender and easy to poke), remove the lid and let the remaining liquid cook off.

Plate the bitter melon pieces on a serving dish. Eat and enjoy! It’s always so good with rice ^_^

A plate of stuffed bitter melon, ready to eat.
Stuffed Bitter Melon, ready to eat!

FAQs and Tips

How long does this dish keep?

It will keep 2-3 days in the refrigerator. Make sure to store it in a sealed container. To reheat, just steam or microwave in 30 second increments.

What to pair with this dish?

All you need is a big bowl of rice to make it a complete meal ^_^

Other bitter melon recipes?

Make sure to also try our recipe for Goya Champuru (Okinawan Bitter Melon Stir Fry). This dish is very popular in Hawaii and you’ll find it on the menus of most of the Okinawan restaurants in town.

Love glass noodles?

So do we! These versatile noodles go by many other names including: vermicelli, cellophane, long rice, or bean thread noodles.

Here are a few great recipes featuring them:
Chicken Long Rice – a local Hawaii favorite!
Cha Trung (Vietnamese Egg Meatloaf)
Chive Vermicelli Egg Pancake
Chicken Hekka
Ants Climbing A Tree (Ma Yi Shang Shu)

A plate of stuffed bitter melon, ready to eat.
Stuffed Bitter Melon, ready to eat!

Stuffed Bitter Melon Recipe

See below and enjoy ^_^

A plate of stuffed bitter melon, ready to eat.

Stuffed Bitter Melon

Yield: 2-3 servings

Stuffed Bitter Melon is a flavorful and healthy dish. It pairs so good with rice! We mix pork, noodles, and mushrooms for savory filling that gets stuffed into fresh bitter melon. Then we cook and eat! Learn tips for reducing the "bitterness" from the bitter melon, and how to make this satisfying Chinese dish.

Instructions

  1. First prepare the dried shiitake mushrooms. Rinse and place the dried mushrooms in a small bowl. Cover the mushrooms with hot water. Place a cover/lid on top of the bowl (to let the mushrooms rehydrate faster) and set aside for 30 minutes.
  2. Prepare the glass noodles. Place the noodles in a bowl and fill the bowl with hot water. Let sit for 5 minutes for the noodles to soften. Then drain the water and cut the noodles into small pieces (about 1-inch long or shorter).
  3. Prepare the bitter melons. Trim off the ends. Cut the bitter melon into 1-inch pieces. Use a small spoon or knife to remove the insides/seeds.
  4. Place the cut and hollowed bitter melon pieces in a bowl. Sprinkle with salt (about 1 tablespoon) and let sit for 15 minutes.
  5. Then gently rinse the bitter melon with water and let drain.
  6. Remove the rehydrated shiitake mushrooms from the bowl (save the mushroom soaking water). Use a knife to cut the mushrooms into small pieces.
  7. Prepare the pork filling. In a bowl, mix together the ground pork, glass noodles, diced shiitake mushrooms, oyster sauce, sesame oil, and white pepper.
  8. Stuff each bitter melon round with a spoonful of the pork filling. I like to do this on a cutting board. Place the bitter melon round on a cutting board. Use a small spoon to fill the bitter melon with the pork filling. Then place an extra mound of filling on top so that each bitter melon piece has a rounded, dome shaped top.
  9. Over medium-high heat, add oil to a large pan. Gently place all the filled bitter melon pieces upright in the pan, in a single layer.
  10. Pour the mushroom soaking water into the pan (leave behind any dirt from the mushrooms). Then add enough water to reach about one third of the height of the bitter melon pieces.
  11. Bring the liquid to a boil. Place a lid on the pan and let cook on medium heat for 20 minutes. Check the pan every 5 minutes to make sure the liquid hasn't completely evaporated. If the liquid is running low, add more water so that the pan doesn't burn.
  12. After the bitter melon is fully cooked (you can test it with a fork, it will be tender and easy to poke), remove the lid and let the remaining liquid cool off.
  13. Remove the bitter melon pieces to a plate. Serve, eat, and enjoy! So good with rice ^_^

Alan

Thursday 11th of August 2022

Hi Kathy: Bittermelon is another favorite of ours. Even my haole wife likes bitter melon. Go figure??! We like if stuffed as well as just sliced with beef and black bean sauce. It is another go to dish for us when it comes to Chinese food.

Kathy

Thursday 11th of August 2022

Hi Alan! Ooh so good with beef and black bean, planning to post that recipe next week! A classic for sure :) - Kathy

Skip to Recipe