Steamed Stuffed Bitter Melon

"My research indicates that this recipe originated with Chef Ken Hom. It was pubished in his excellent (out of print) book Chinese Technique, which deserves republication. It is one of my favorite things, and I always make it when I can find bitter melons. They are not always easy to find. Try it, you will like it."
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Ready In:


  • 12 cup ground lean pork
  • 4 peeled water chestnuts (or the generous equivalent in canned slices)
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh ginger or 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons minced scallions (white and light green part only)
  • 1 12 tablespoons shaoxing wine
  • 12 teaspoon salt
  • 12 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch (potato, water chestnut, sweet rice starch starches may be substituted)
  • 2 medium bitter melon (green in color and 3/4 to 1 pound in weight. For much larger, nearly ripe melons, it will be necessa)
  • For the sauce

  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 12 teaspoons chinese fermented black beans (salted)
  • 1 tablespoon shaoxing cooking wine
  • 34 cup chicken broth
  • salt
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch, mixed with
  • 1 tablespoon cold chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon oriental sesame oil (roasted or dark)


  • PREP:

  • Finely mince the water chestnuts.
  • Trim the ends off the bitter melons ans slice into 1 inch slices.
  • Using a small paring knife, carefully cut out the pulp and seeds in the center of each slive, leaving onlu the melon wall.
  • Rub the inside of each slice with coating of cornstarch.

  • the slices:

  • Combine all of the stuffing ingredients in a large bowl.
  • Mix them thoroughly using freshly washed hands.
  • Rub more starch into the inner surfce of each slice of bitter melon, then stuff the cavity of each slive with a generous spoonful of stuffing, enough to completely fill the cavity.
  • As the slices are stuffed, arrange them on a plate and set the plate in a steamer with water coming within an inch of the plate Cover and steam for 20 minutes.
  • Arrange hte coked slices on a serving plats, reserving the juices on the plate for the sauce.
  • the sauce:

  • In a separate wok or pan, heat 2 T.
  • peanut oil, add the garlic and black beans, then stir fry for a minute or two, then add the Shaoxing wine, chicken stock and salt.
  • Add the reserved juices from the steaming of the melon slices.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil.
  • Thicken with the dissolved cornstarch and flavor eith sesame oil.
  • Pur sauce over bitter melon and serve with white rice.

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  1. My DH loves bitter melon. This recipe is the BEST that I have found for stuffed bitter melon. I have made it several times. Couldn't believe that I hadn't reviewed it before. The only thing I did different was to parboil the bitter melon in salt water for a couple of minutes before stuffing. The sauce is delicious, I do use less peanut oil & it still has the same flavor as when I used more. Thank you for posting this recipe I will be using it often.


I am a retired disabled former government lawyer as well as a former businessman. Since I have difficulty standing, and only partial use of my left hand, I spend most of my time at the computer. I have been cooking an exploring cultures and cuisines for nearly 60 years. My mother first taught me to cook and bake. My first specialty was Nut Bread, but I lost the recipe 20 years ago. I used to make it for the neighborhood. At the age of 10, I received more or less formal training in Italian cooking from our Italian cook. We were hen living in Europe. My father, a scientist as well as an Air Force Officer was completing his doctorate in Aerodynamics at the Swiss Federal Instutute of Technology (E.T.H.) I attended Swiss public school at Ilgenschule B in Zurich near Roemerhof and we were taught by Fraeulein Uhrner. We lived at the top of the Zeilbahn next to the Hotel Waldhaus Dolder. I leaned German and Swiss German, which is truly a different language, (and later passable French and Italian). I have always been curious and I used such language skills as I had, and my travels throughout Western Europe, to learn more about people and their food. I had the privilege of eating at many first class restaurants and hotels, a real castle (in Belgium) and at a French Chateau near Grasse, France, owned by the perfumers who "adopted" my father during WWII. My introduction to fine wine occurred at Grasse and continued in France, Italy, Switzerland and Germany. When I returned to the States, I continued cooking, usually experimenting as much as I could. When I reached college, my culinary experimentation extended further from student specialties such as my spaghetti sauce for 50, a concoction called "Gub" which consisted of my my specal spaghetti sauce, pasta, lots of mushrooms, corn, olives, and whatever else was handy to a wide variety of fine French cheeses, wines, and smoked salmons and baked he night before in Paris. These items were flown back in empty cargo planes returning from delivering Tektronix oscilloscopes to Europe and they wqere available in a delicatessen run by a friend. I ahd more and better cheeses than I had ever experienced in Europe. It was a once in a lifetime eexperience and I have never had such variety and quality available since that time, even in the finest shops in New York and Washington, D.C.! I also made friends with Dave and Mrs Tannenbaum (who will always be in my heart). They were an elderly couple in the 1950s who taught me some of the finer point of Jewish cooking and who would make kreplach specially for me o I could have Mrs. Tannenbaum's famous kreplach soup (I wish I hasd the recipe) I also made friends with a famiuly of Japanese-American vegetable farmers who ran a stand next to college (and who ultimately put 5 children through Harvard!Z) They taught me much about Japanese culture and one of their sons, who was near my age, introduced me to some relaatives who rn a cafe type restaurant, where you sat on stools at a counter. They prepared mostly American short order meals,but they did have a small section of Japanese food. I went often and enjoyed the Japanese food exclusively. one time, my friend asked if I would like to try raw fish. I said yes, and I was served a plate of tuna sashimi. To their amazement, I ate it with enthusiasm and asked for more. I must confes I was a bit of a glutton. Therafter I developed an unlimited appetite for sushi. I also love oysters on the half shell (Blue Points and Olympias are best on the West Coast, Long Island and Chesapeake Bay on the East Coast and Louisiana oysters on the Gulf) fried Oregon Razor Clams, Dungeness and Blue Crabs (the blues are the nbetter), King Crab, ad many other things. One hobby I had during my younger years was to go to Trader Vic's in Portland and then create the recipe for ehat I had eaten by the next day. My success rate for the curries was 100%. I had to watch the number of Zombies I drank, however. Another favorites of mine at the time was the mixed grill in one of the better hotels and steaks in another. I have continued my culinary curiosity and experimentation ever since together with my historical and cultural studies (area studies) of several areas of the world. I tok and passsed the Foreign Service entrnce exmination twice as an undergraduate, but I did not, for some reason, accept an appointment. My interests remain to this day, although my ability to persue them ha nearly ended.
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