Bitter Melon Stir Fry With Pork

Stir-Fry Bitter Melon With Pork

The Spruce / Christine Ma

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Total: 25 mins
Servings: 3 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
339 Calories
20g Fat
15g Carbs
23g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 3
Amount per serving
Calories 339
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 20g 26%
Saturated Fat 4g 22%
Cholesterol 67mg 22%
Sodium 613mg 27%
Total Carbohydrate 15g 6%
Dietary Fiber 4g 13%
Total Sugars 6g
Protein 23g
Vitamin C 51mg 253%
Calcium 40mg 3%
Iron 2mg 10%
Potassium 821mg 17%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Bitter melon is a vegetable that originated in India. It was introduced to China in the 14th century and remains a popular vegetable in Chinese cuisine, as well as Southeast Asian cooking. It can be crunchy or soft, depending on the preparation. And as the name suggests, it has a bitter flavor. Par-boiling and then pairing the vegetable with tender pork and a flavorful sauce will mellow that bitterness.

Serve this recipe as a tasty main dish with a simple side dish of steamed rice or freshly boiled noodles. It's quick enough to cook on a weeknight.


  • 1 pound bitter melon

  • 1/2 pound lean pork

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons light soy sauce

  • 2 teaspoons rice wine or sherry

  • 1 pinch freshly ground black or white pepper

  • 3 1/4 teaspoons cornstarch, divided

  • 1/2 cup chicken broth

  • 1 tablespoon sherry

  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar

  • 1 tablespoon Chinese salted fermented black beans

  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (as needed)

  • 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil

  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Stir-Fry Bitter Melon With Pork ingredients

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

    pot with water

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  3. Cut the ends off the bitter melon and cut in half lengthwise (do not peel).

    bitter melon cut in half

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  4. Remove the seeds and pith from the middle of the melon with a small spoon.

    bitter melon with the seeds removed

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  5. Cut the melon diagonally into 1/4-inch slices.

    sliced bitter melon

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  6. Place the sliced bitter melon in the boiling water and parboil until it is just tender, about 2 to 3 minutes, then drain.

    bitter melon in a pot of water

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  7. Cut the pork across the grain into very thin, 1/8-inch thick slices that are 1 1/2 to 2 inches long.

    pork cut into pieces

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  8. Place in a bowl and add the soy sauce, rice wine (or the same amount of sherry), pepper, and 2 teaspoons cornstarch. Stir to combine and let the pork marinate while preparing the other ingredients.

    pork with marinade in a bowl

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  9. In a small bowl, combine the chicken broth, sherry, and sugar.

    chicken broth and sherry in a bowl

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  10. In a separate small bowl, dissolve 2 teaspoons of cornstarch in 1 tablespoon water.

    cornstarch and water mixture in a bowl

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  11. Rinse the black beans to remove excess salt. Mash the beans with the side of a cleaver or knife.

    Mash the beans with the side of a knife

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  12. Stir together the beans and chopped garlic with a small amount of water.

    Stir together the beans and chopped garlic with a small amount of water

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  13. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the bean and garlic mixture.

    add the bean and garlic mixture to a wok

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  14. Cook, stirring for about 15 seconds until aromatic, then add the pork. Stir-fry for 2 to 3 minutes, until the pork turns white and is nearly cooked. Remove the pork from the pan.

    add pork to the garlic mixture in the wok

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  15. Heat 1 to 2 teaspoons oil in the wok, as needed. When the oil is hot, add the bitter melon. Stir-fry for a minute, then pour in the chicken broth mixture. Add the pork back into the pan, stirring to mix everything together.

    add bitter melon to the pork mixture in the wok

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  16. Cover and simmer for 2 minutes.

    bitter melon and pork cooking in a covered wok

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  17. Re-stir the cornstarch and water mixture. Push the other ingredients to the sides of the wok and add it to the chicken broth in the middle of the wok, stirring to thicken. Stir everything together, stir in the sesame oil, and season with salt or pepper if desired.

    bitter melon and pork in a wok

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  18. Serve hot and enjoy!


  • There are a couple of varieties of bitter melon. The Chinese variety is green and the Taiwanese variety is white and tends to be softer in texture and more bitter.
  • The skin is edible so there's no need to peel before cooking.