Braised Bitter Melon


Preparation info

    • Difficulty


Appears in

Balance and Harmony

By Neil Perry

Published 2008

  • About

This was one of my father’s favourite dishes, along with black bean and chilli stir-fried bitter melon. It took me a long time to appreciate the bitter flavour but, once I got the hang of it, I was a true convert. Blanching the melon and removing the membrane before braising makes the bitterness a little more moderate.


  • 2 × 600 g (1 lb 5 oz) bitter melons, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons chilli oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil


    Halve the melons lengthways, scoop out the seeds and soft inner membrane with a spoon, and then cut the melon into bite-sized pieces. Cook the pieces in boiling water for 7 minutes, then drain and refresh under cold water.

    Heat a wok until just smoking. Add the oil and, when hot, stir-fry the melon until starting to colour. Add the soy sauce, sugar, 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) water and chilli oil and simmer over medium heat until the sauce has reduced and become syrupy. Transfer the melon and sauce to a bowl and drizzle with sesame oil to serve.