Stir Fried Bitter Melon with Fermented Black Beans

This quick, tasty, and healthy side dish will surprise you with its beautiful simplicity and rich flavor. {Gluten-Free adaptable, Vegetarian}

Stir fried bitter melon with fermented black beans

I know that with a name like “bitter melon,” I’m going to need to do some convincing to get you to try this. I know it looks a bit funky too. But forget that for a moment. If you want to bring about better health for you and your family, bitter melon is a great way to make that happen. Stir fried bitter melon gives it a flavor that’s nothing like the name suggests. In fact, I know you’re going to love it.

Why bitter melon

Bitter melon is a bit like if a cucumber and cantaloupe eloped. If it’s harvested before it ripens, then it’s not as bitter. If you go to Asia, you’ll see it used in dishes in China and Japan as well as in South Indian cuisine. It’s also very revered in herbal medicine. Bitter melon can help control your blood sugar levels, boost immunity, give you beautiful skin, fight cancer, lower cholesterol, aid in digestion, and much more.

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How to cut bitter melon

  How to make the best stir fried bitter melon

  1. Make bitter melon less bitter

If you follow my stir fried bitter melon recipe, you will get to enjoy all these healthful benefits and you’ll lose the bitter taste too. Follow my tips below for how to cut it and prepare it for cooking. After you’ve cut it properly, you’ll parboil the bitter melon first. I strongly urge you to not skip this step. It takes some of the bitterness away plus it allows it to cook more evenly in the stir-fry step. If you’re in a huge hurry, you can skip the parboiling, but you’ll need to stir-fry it for much longer to get the bitter melon cooked through. This is why I advise you not to skip the parboil. You’re not really saving that much time by skipping the boiling.

Cooking stir fried bitter melon in a wok

2. Secret sauce

Once it’s been parboiled, your bitter melon is ready to become stir fried bitter melon. Then the fun begins with stir-frying. You’ll be using fermented black beans, which are called Dou Chi (豆豉) in Chinese. You can find them in your local Asian market or in the absence of that, order them from Amazon or The Mala Market. They are a must for creating the black bean sauce. Their savory flavor makes anything taste good, plus they add a nice thickness to the sauce.

There are several kinds of them so I encourage you to read the ingredient list before you buy your package of fermented black beans. Some are pre-seasoned with lots of other spices. The ones that are simply seasoned with salt are best because you can control your other flavors by seasoning it yourself if you wish. A word to the wise though: these are very salty so you should wash and rinse them several times before using them. It helps get rid of the excess of salt and it softens them up too. If you’ve ever tried a dish with black bean sauce and the beans felt chewy in texture, the reason is because they weren’t rinsed.

Once they’re rinsed and ready, you can add your seasonings. I always add a pinch of sugar to the fermented black beans. It balances the saltiness and add a depth of umami to the dish. With this sauce, your stir fried bitter melon is going to taste amazing with nothing bitter about it!

Stir fried bitter melon with fermented black beans close up

More quick and easy vegetable recipes

If you give this recipe a try, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it (once you’ve tried it), and take a picture and tag it @omnivorescookbook on Instagram! I’d love to see what you come up with.

Stir Fried Bitter Melon with Fermented Black Beans - This quick, tasty, and healthy side dish will surprise you with its beautiful simplicity and rich flavor. #glutenfree #chinese #healthy

Stir Fried Bitter Melon with Fermented Black Beans

This quick, tasty, and healthy side dish will surprise you with its beautiful simplicity and rich flavor. {Gluten-Free adaptable, Vegetarian}
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side
Cuisine: Chinese
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 75kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 (1 lbs / 450 g) medium or 3 small bitter melons
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 1 dried chili pepper , broken into 2 to 3 pieces (Optional)
  • 3 cloves garlic , minced
  • 2 tablespoons fermented black beans , coarsely chopped (or black bean sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (or tamari for gluten-free)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Instructions

  • Remove and discard the ends of the bitter melons. Halve lengthwise, and scoop out seeds and pith with a small metal spoon and discard. Slice crosswise into 1/4” (6 mm) half-moon pieces.
  • Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add the bitter melon slices. Let cook for 30 seconds or so, until half-cooked. Drain the bitter melon with a colander and set aside.
  • Heat oil in a large nonstick pan (or a wok) over medium-high heat until hot. Add the dried chili pepper (if using), garlic, and fermented black beans, stir a few times until fragrant. Add the blanched bitter melon slices and stir for 1 minute or so. Add soy sauce and sugar. Stir until the bitter melon is just tender, 1 minute or so. Taste the bitter melon. Sprinkle with more salt and stir again, if needed. Once done, transfer everything to a plate.
  • Serve hot as a side.

Nutrition

Serving: 4g | Calories: 75kcal | Carbohydrates: 9.4g | Protein: 1.6g | Fat: 3.7g | Saturated Fat: 0.6g | Sodium: 334mg | Potassium: 215mg | Fiber: 0.3g | Sugar: 3.6g | Calcium: 3% | Iron: 2%
Stir Fried Bitter Melon with Fermented Black Beans - This quick, tasty, and healthy side dish will surprise you with its beautiful simplicity and rich flavor. #glutenfree #chinese #healthy

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Omnivore's Cookbook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
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