Pickled Bitter Melon/Gourd Salad

Pickled bitter melon/gourd salad

Connie Veneracion

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Total: 20 mins
Servings: 8 servings

Thin slices of bitter melon (bitter gourd) are combined with julienned radish and carrot to make a refreshingly delicious pickled salad that can be served as a side dish to meat and seafood dishes. 

The recipes for two dressings are given below, one with Filipino flavors and the other with Vietnamese flavors. This is a meatless dish but note that the Vietnamese dressing contains fish sauce. For a totally vegan salad, use salt in place of the fish sauce.


  • 1 cup bitter melon (thinly sliced)
  • 1/4 cup radish (julienned)
  • 1/4 cup carrot (julienned)
  • 1 shallot (thinly sliced)
  • 2 - 3 bird's eye chilies (thinly sliced)

Steps to Make It

Place all the ingredients in a bowl. Toss well. Transfer to a jar with a screw-type cap.

Choose and make one of the following pickling solutions.


  • 1 cup white vinegar

  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup white sugar

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 clove of garlic (crushed)

  • 2 slices of ginger

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  1. Boil all the ingredients together until the sugar is completely dissolved. Cool.


  • 1 cup lime juice

  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup white sugar

  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce (use 1 tablespoon salt for a vegan version)

  • 2 cloves garlic (crushed)

  • 2 slices of ginger

  1. Place all the ingredients in a jar with a screw-type cap. Shake until the sugar is completely dissolved.

  2. When you have made your pickling solution, pour it into the jar containing the vegetables. Allow to steep overnight. The vegetables taste even better when allowed to steep longer.

  3. The pickled bitter melon salad is delicious as it is but there are a few ingredients to make it even better:

  4. Top the salad with fresh herbs for brighter flavors. Finely snipped scallions, torn basil, mint, and cilantro are all good.

  5. Garnish the pickled bitter melon salad with crisp fried shallots or toasted garlic bits, or both! Not only will they add boldness to the flavors, but the slight crunch also provides an interesting contrast as well.

  6. Sprinkle toasted nuts over the salad. Cashew nuts or peanuts work especially well. Just chop the nuts, throw into a medium-hot oil-free pan and toast until the nuts glisten with their oil. Cool before adding to the salad.

  7. Use toasted sesame seeds instead of nuts or combine sesame seeds with nuts. Toast the sesame seeds the same way you would the nuts.

  8. Want to turn the bitter melon salad into a main dish? Throw in some poached or grilled chicken fillets or shrimps and you're good to go.

  9. The pickled bitter melon will keep in the fridge for several days. For best results, every time you take out a portion for a meal, make sure that the remaining vegetables are still submerged in the pickling solution.