Stir fry bitter melon

An unusual taste for New Orleanians, bitter melon is found in many other tropical locations—China, Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Columbia, Panama—where it is often more valued for its medicinal powers. First introduced to our market by our Philippine friends, the Pampos, bitter melon is a garden staple in the Vietnamese community of New Orleans East.



  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dry sherry
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  • 1 pound bitter melon
  • oil for stir-frying
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil


To prepare sauce: In a small bowl, mix water, soy sauce, sherry, sugar, and salt. Set aside.

To prepare melon: Cut bitter melon in half and remove seeds; chop melon into small pieces. Blanch melon in boiling water for about 2 minutes (this will reduce the bitter taste), then drain.

If desired, you can also degorge the bitter melon as you would an eggplant by salting and pressing to remove bitter liquid. 

Heat a wok and add oil. When oil is hot, add garlic and stir-fry over high heat briefly or until garlic is aromatic. Add bitter melon and stir-fry over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Add sauce and stir-fry over medium-high heat for 1 to 2 more minutes. Add sesame oil. Serve hot.

Serves 4

Recipe compliments of market shopper

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Market Umbrella


Market Umbrella is an independent nonprofit 501(c)(3), based in New Orleans, whose mission is to cultivate the field of public markets for public good. Market Umbrella has operated the Crescent City Farmers Markets (CCFM) since 1995.

Crescent City Farmers Market


The Crescent City Farmers Market operates weekly year-round in four New Orleans neighborhoods. The CCFM hosts nearly 80 local small farmers, fishers and food producers, and more than 100,000 shoppers annually.