Bitter Gourd / Bitter Melon

Bitter Gourd (Momordica charantia) also known as bitter melon, looks like a pale green cucumber with bumpy, grooved skin.  This bittergourdsquash-family vegetable is predictably quite bitter in flavor.  However there are ways to reduce the bitterness (it should be picked when its young) and tasty recipes that make it quite palatable.  Why eat it?  The bitter melon is full of vitamin A and C.  Medicinally it can clear heat from the body and reduce phlegm.

Directions to Prepare:

Option #1: Rub with salt and let stand for 1 hour before cooking to reduce bitterness. Then rinse and dry, and then the central spongy portion and seeds are discarded.   The salt treatment helps to leach out some of the bitterness.

Option #2: Skip the preliminary salting and instead simmer slices or cubes in salty water before adding them to soups or a seasoned stew.

It can also be stuffed with minced pork or can be cooked with eggs.

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  1. I fixed vegie omelets with bitter melon ( Momordica Charantia ) . It’s so very good for building immune system . Persian people eat this for fever , clearing phlegm , weak visions . Top the omelet with some fresh mint and yogurt , its very good food .

    Comment by Sai Houston — March 27, 2013 @ 4:16 pm

  2. Beautiful and so simple. Thank you Sai for the additional ideas :>)

    Comment by Diana Rogers — April 6, 2013 @ 11:34 am

  3. I saw these today at Berkeley Bowl. This would be a great vegetable to add to a summer stew. Slightly more cooling nature and not so heavy. Thanks for the recipe idea.

    Comment by Katherine Walters — April 11, 2013 @ 1:57 pm

  4. Very interesting. I’ve never seen one. Where do you find them? What season do they ripen?

    Comment by Heidi Bartlett — April 11, 2013 @ 11:09 pm

  5. This is one of my favorites!! In Okinawa Japan, we fix Goya Champuru which is similar to how Sai prepares it but more of just scrambled eggs with the “goya” (Momordica charantia) chopped and added along with green onion and usually SPAM (which I omit). The elders swear by this vegetable for health and longevity. There is even a drink usually taken as a shot like wheatgrass. I am so excited to be living on the West Coast now where this veggie is once again available to me!

    Comment by Heather Lilly — May 7, 2013 @ 10:17 pm

  6. Heather, Any chance you can make a bitter melon recipe for us next trimester for your project?

    Comment by Lana — August 8, 2013 @ 3:55 pm

  7. Hi Lana,

    Bitter melon is very popular in Okinawa, Japan where is the longest average life span in Japan which means the world too.

    Not only bitter melon but also seaweed and pork they eat much more than people in Honshu, Japan.

    Only one thing I worry about bitter melon’s shape. If someone grow it using pesticides, it’s very difficult to wash off.

    If you eat it with coriander together, which has effect bring heavy metal is out from the body is recommended.

    Comment by Toshi Toyoda — June 3, 2013 @ 10:35 am

  8. I have found a juice recipe that incorporates bitter melon that I like. It calls for the gourd, carrot, mint leaves and lemon juice. The carrot offsets the bitterness of the gourd. I have never had a bitter melon, but will soon try this juice. Sounds cooling and refreshing!

    Comment by Kim O'Berry — August 6, 2013 @ 5:37 pm

  9. Thank you for the prep directions – where can I find bitter melons?

    Comment by Jessica Savich — August 7, 2013 @ 9:37 pm

  10. You can find bitter melon at Ranch 99 in El Cerrito or Concord.

    Comment by Lana — August 8, 2013 @ 3:26 pm

  11. thanks for this one, i’ve been interested in trying out this vegetable as it seems very powerful yet underused in our culture


    Comment by jonathan — August 13, 2013 @ 1:34 pm

  12. This sounds very interesting! I have never met a squash I didn’t like and am curious to know if I would like this one. I think I’ll try Sai’s suggestion…

    Comment by Lisa Polson — November 13, 2013 @ 11:27 am

  13. I like to stir-fry the bitter melon. A simple recipe is to stir-fry it by itself with pepper flakes, sesame oil, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar and a small amount of sugar.

    Comment by Kim O'Berry — November 27, 2013 @ 3:49 pm

  14. If you want to eat bitter melon, but can’t find it in the grocery store or don’t have the inclination to cook, Cam Huong, the Vietnamese take out place, usually has a couple of dishes with bitter melon. Try the soup that has bitter melon halves stuffed with ground pork, or the omelet with minced bitter melon.

    Cam Huong has two storefronts, one in Oakland’s Chinatown (920 Webster St Oakland), and one in Oakland’s New Chinatown (702 International Blvd).

    Comment by Cali James — April 13, 2017 @ 8:23 am

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