Jul 5, 2023

Bitter Gourd Stir-Fry with Salted Black Beans (Try My "Not Quite as Bitter" Way of Cooking)

Never a fan of bitter gourd/bitter melon because no matter what others claim that it's not bitter at all, it is! Let it be a stir-fry, cold dish, or soup, bitter gourd always taste pretty bitter to me. Despite all my bitter past experiences, I still determined to take on the challenge and decided to cook the bitter gourd myself instead.

Turned out it might be the most delicious bitter gourd stir-fry I've even tried so far. I thinly sliced the bitter gourd, massage and marinate with salt, rinse and squeeze dry, and further stir-fry it with a dry hot wok. All that steps really helped in getting rid of that bitter taste from the melon. What's left was the soft gourd fully soaked up the savory seasonings with a slight sweet hint from the salted black beans and sugar. Really loved it.

Bitter gourd stir-fry with salted black beans - 

Bitter gourd stir-fry with salted black beans


  • 300 grams white bitter gourd
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1~2 red chilies
  • 1 tablespoon salted black beans in oil 豆豉
  • 2 tablespoons preferred cooking oil
  • 1 teaspoon oyster sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • Some salt


Peel and chop the garlic cloves. Destem and remove the seeds from red chilies, chop the red chilies too. I actually used 1 tablespoons of chopped red chilies marinated in flavored oil (剁椒) instead.

Halved white bitter gourd

Cut the bitter gourd in half and remove the seeds and pith in the center. Slice the bitter gourd, no thicker than 1mm. Use about 1/4 teaspoon of salt to massage the bitter gourd slices and let it sit for 5 minutes. 

Massage bitter gourd slices with salt

The salt will draw out some liquid from the bitter gourd slices. Drain first then rinse the bitter gourd slices. It won't take long and there's no need to use cold water. Just a quick rinse to wash away excess salt then squeeze really dry again.

Use a wok and turn to medium low heat. Transfer the bitter gourd slices over and just stir-fry without any oil for few minutes. Once ready, remove and set aside for later use.

Cooking bitter gourd slices with dry wok

Now drizzle 2 tablespoons of preferred cooking oil, something lighter tasting. This time switch to medium heat or medium high heat. Add in garlic, red chilies, and salted black beans. Mix and cook for about a minute.

Aromatics and salted black beans

Add the bitter gourd slices back to the wok and give it a quick mix. Season with tiny pinch of salt, 1 teaspoon of oyster sauce, and 1/2 teaspoon of sugar. Mix till evenly blended and stir-fry till the gourd soaked in some sauce. 

Stir-frying bitter gourd with salted black beans

Scoop to serving plate.

Bitter gourd stir-fry with salted black beans

If you're never a fan of bitter gourd, this recipe might change your mind for good. It truly turned the gourd into a well-seasoned stir-fry vegetable dish. A rice-killing recipe for sure. 


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