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Braised Stuffed Bitter Melon in Black Bean Sauce

Learn how to prep bitter melons so they are not bitter, and prepare this classic Chinese bitter melon dish, braised stuffed bitter melon in black bean sauce.

Many people seems to hate bitter melons mainly because they are, well, bitter. But we will be stuffing them with ground pork and shiitake and further braised them in black bean sauce, and I promise you that the end result is a bitter melon dish that will not be bitter at all. ♥

Braised Stuffed Bitter Melon in Black Bean Sauce

Braised Stuffed Bitter Melon in Black Bean Sauce

How to get rid of bitterness from bitter melon

With the right prep work, your bitter melon will not be bitter at all. Here is how you would want to prepare them:

  1. Cut to remove the two ends, then slice into 1-inch lengths.
  2. Remove the seeds with a knife/spoon to get bitter melon rounds.
  3. To remove bitterness from the melon, sprinkle liberally with salt and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Wash in cold water and drain.
Bitter melon rounds sprinkled with salt.

Bitter melon rounds sprinkled with salt.

Preparing the stuffing for stuffed bitter melon

For the stuffing, we will need:

  • 200 gram ground pork
  • 2 dried shiitake mushrooms. Soak in 1 cup of hot water (~ 1 hour) or cold water (~ 8 hours) until soft and spongy, then squeeze, remove the stems, and chop into small pieces. Reserve the soaking liquid for the braising sauce.
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch, or tapioca starch
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce. I use Pearl River Bridge light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Shaoxing wine. Try using drinking grade Shaoxing wine with no salt content if possible, but the cooking grade is also fine for this recipe
  • 12 teaspoon salt
  • 12 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 12 teaspoon sesame oil

To prepare the stuffing, simply combine all the stuffing ingredients in a mixing bowl and left to marinate for 15 minutes.

To stuff the bitter melon, with a small teaspoon, stuff the bitter melon rounds with the stuffing mixture. Try to make the bottom part lay flat while the top part is shaped like a dome. Once you are done with stuffing all the bitter melons, they are ready to be cooked.

The stuffing: ground pork, minced shiitake, corn starch, salt, Shaoxing wine, soy sauce, and sesame oil.

The stuffing: ground pork, minced shiitake, corn starch, salt, Shaoxing wine, soy sauce, and sesame oil.

Braising sauce and how to cook Chinese stuffed bitter melon

For the braising sauce, you will need:

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red chili, thinly sliced. Use either a cayenne chili or a Fresno chili.
  • 1 tablespoon black bean sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 12 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 cup dried shiitake soaking water
  • cornstarch slurry from 1 tablespoon cornstarch + 1 tablespoon water

Here is the step-by-step to cook this dish:

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan on medium. Fry the stuffed bitter melons (bottom part down) for 3 minutes until browned. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  2. Turn the heat to high, sauté garlic and chili until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add black bean sauce, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar, and sesame oil, and shiitake soaking liquid and bring to a boil.
  4. Return the bitter melons into the frying pan, cover the pan with a lid, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes until the melon is slightly translucent and the stuffing is fully cooked.
  5. Pour the corn starch mixture to thicken the sauce.
  6. Turn off heat and serve immediately with steamed white rice.
Stuffed Bitter Melons

Stuffed Bitter Melons

Braised Stuffed Bitter Melon in Black Bean Sauce

5.0 from 11 reviews

Author: Anita Jacobson

Categories:

Cuisine:

Ingredients:

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 25 mins

Total Time: 1 hour 25 mins

Serves: 4

Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 500 gram bitter melon (about 3 to 4)
  • Stuffing
  • 200 gram ground pork
  • 2 dried shiitake mushrooms.
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch, or tapioca starch
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce, try Pearl River Bridge light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Shaoxing wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • Braising sauce
  • 2 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 red chili (cayenne or Fresno), thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon black bean sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 cup of dried shiitake soaking liquid/water
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch + 1 tablespoon water

Instructions

  1. Prepare shiitake. Soak dried shiitake mushrooms in 1 cup of hot water (~ 1 hour) or cold water (~ 8 hours) until soft and spongy, then squeeze, remove the stems, and chop into small pieces. Reserve the soaking liquid for the braising sauce.
  2. Prepare bitter melons. Remove the ends from the bitter melon and cut into 1-inch slices. Remove the seeds with a spoon/knife to get bitter melon rounds. Sprinkle liberally with salt and let rest for 15 minutes. Wash under cold water and drain. Set aside.
  3. Prepare the stuffing. In mixing bowl, combine all stuffing ingredients and let marinate for 15 minutes.
  4. Stuff bitter melons. With a teaspoon, stuff the bitter melon rounds with stuffing mixture, taking care to ensure the bottom part will lay flat while the top part has a dome shape. Repeat until all bitter melon rounds have been stuffed.
  5. Cook Chinese stuffed bitter melons. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan on medium. Fry the stuffed bitter melons (bottom part down) for 3 minutes until browned. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  6. Turn the heat to high, sauté garlic and chili until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  7. Add black bean sauce, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar, and sesame oil, and shiitake soaking liquid and bring to a boil.
  8. Return the bitter melons into the frying pan, cover the pan with a lid, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes until the melon is slightly translucent and the stuffing is fully cooked.
  9. Pour the cornstarch mixture to thicken the sauce.
  10. Turn off heat and serve immediately with steamed white rice.
Indonesian Pantry
Indonesian Kitchen

Comments

  • Hsiao-Ting Hsiao-Ting says:

    Hi Anita - thanks so much for sharing this recipe! I just made it for dinner and it was delicious! I undercooked the bitter melon but the sauce was good!

  • Mona L Mona L says:

    I have some mixture left, no bitter melon, can I freeze it or keep it for a few days?

    • Anita Anita says:

      Hi Mona, yes it is okay to freeze the meat mixture.

  • Rachel Rachel says:

    Thanks for the recipe Anita! It was fairly easy to make and was delicious. For me, the black bean sauce was extremely salty, so I'll probably cut that in half next time. It also took much longer than 15 mins. for the melon and pork to cook at low...maybe 30 mins. Maybe I didn't fry it long enough the first time?

    • Anita Anita says:

      Hi Rachel, the time is just for guidance, but it is also possible that my stove cooking temperature is hotter than yours. But I am glad you still like the end result :)

  • Raziehl Raziehl says:

    Since i moved here in Florida from Hawaii i cant find a chinesse restaurant that serves them. I tried your recipe and Wow!!! Its beyond my expectation... i love bittermellons so much, and this is the best.

    • Anita Anita says:

      Yay! I'm so glad the recipe is to your liking. And it's always nice to know another fellow bitter melon enthusiast :)

  • Joe Joe says:

    My wife is from Hawai'i and she grew up eating bitter melon (I'd never had it before). I've made your recipe for her a few times now, and she absolutely loves it. It makes her so happy. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Paul Chang Paul Chang says:

    What a delicious way to cook bitter melon! Your directions are spot-on and the recipe makes eating this super-healthy veggie a delight. I look forward to trying your many other recipes. With my appreciation, Paul (SoCal)

  • Maddie Maddie says:

    Thx u! My father was a Chinese chef. He took some of the black bean paste and marinated the meat/or fish a few mins. He steamed his. But I tried your method. Turned out really good.

    • Anita Anita says:

      Thanks for the feedback, Maddie. You must have so many great recipes from your father. :)

  • Lisa Huff Lisa Huff says:

    Wow I've never had anything like this. Sounds AMAZING!

  • Andrea Metlika Andrea Metlika says:

    This looks totally amazing. The flavors of the bitter melon with pork and Asian Black bean sauce sounds so good. I cannot wait to make this.

  • Alison Alison says:

    These little bitter melons are so cute! This makes for a great appetizer!

  • Courtney | Love & Good Stuff Courtney | Love & Good Stuff says:

    These sound delicious! Any suggestions on what to substitute for bitter melon? I have never seen it where I live.

    • Anita Anita says:

      You can try using jalapeno peppers too, simply cut each jalapeno into two halves lengthwise, and stuff. Of course, you won't need to prep jalapenos like you would bitter melons, so an even faster prep work. :)

  • Emmeline Emmeline says:

    I never tried bitter melon but I've been hearing a lot about it lately. Not a common ingredient in Sweden but I will check next time I'm at the asian market because yours is a recipe I definitely want to try!!

  • Jenn B Jenn B says:

    I must have done something really wrong. The bitter melons were so bitter it was not edible. Which sucks eggs!! Because I was really looking forward to eating this tonight. So, the sauce is super delish!! The melon did not loose the bitterness. I knew I didn’t want that bitter taste so I did what the recipe says, with the salt and actually left it for 25 minutes. Nope! So disappointed.

    • Anita Anita says:

      Hi Jenn, sorry it didn't work out for you. When choosing bitter melon from the market, it is better to choose small to medium size as opposed to medium to large size, the larger it is the bitter it gets. We can also try salting for longer, say up to 45 minutes to remove more of the bitterness. The last point, although salting will remove the bitterness, it won't be 100% removed. Sort or like removing seeds from chilies; the chilies will be less spicy, but they won't be miraculously turn completely not spicy.

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