Bitter Melon Stir Fry With Dried Shrimp

Bitter Melon Stir Fry With Dried Shrimp

Bitter melon tastes, just as the name suggests, bitter. Pairing it with a salty, sweet, and spicy sauce of garlic, chile, soy sauce, rice wine, and a pinch of sugar helps to tame and balance out the bitterness. Dried shrimp add a burst of umami flavor and nice texture. You’ll find dried shrimp in Asian markets; it can also be ordered online.

Bitter melon is commonly used in Chinese, Indian, and Southeast Asian cooking. Depending on how it is prepared, it can be soft or crisp. This recipe leaves the vegetable crisp-tender for a delicious side dish that goes well with a range of dishes. Serve stir-fried bitter melon with your favorite main dish like beef chow fun, chicken chop suey, or five spice-baked tofu.


  • 2 small-sized green bitter melons, thinly sliced

  • 2 tablespoons oil , for stir-frying

  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • 1 seeded and finely-chopped chile

  • 2 tablespoons dried shrimp, softened in water and drained

  • 1 tablespoon water

  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce

  • 1/2 tablespoon demerara sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon rice wine

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  2. Cut the ends off the bitter melon and cut in half lengthwise (do not peel). 

    Cut the ends off the bitter melon and cut in half lengthwise

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  3. Remove the seeds and pith from the middle of the melon with a small spoon. 

    Remove the seeds and pith from the middle of the melon

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  4. Cut the melon diagonally into 1/4-inch slices.

    cut bitter melon into pieces

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  5. Heat up oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Stir fry garlic and chile until the fragrance releases.

    stir fry garlic and chili mixture in a wok

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  6. Add the dried shrimp and stir-fry for 10 seconds.

    add dried shrimp to the chili mixture in the wok

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  7. Add bitter melon and 1 tablespoon water. Stir-fry for a couple of minutes.

    bitter melon cooking in a wok with the shrimp mixture

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  8. Add the soy sauce, sugar, salt, and rice wine and stir-fry for 1 minute.

    bitter melon mixture cooking in a wok

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  9. Serve hot and enjoy!


  • There are two main varieties of bitter melon. Chinese bitter melon is green while Taiwanese bitter melon is white and tends to be softer in texture and more bitter in flavor.
  • Bitter melon skin is edible, so don’t worry about peeling it before cooking.
  • When shopping for bitter melon, look for veggies that are vibrant in color without soft or dark spots.
  • When stir-frying it’s best to keep the food moving as you cook since the pan is very hot. This will help the food cook evenly.
  • If you don’t have a wok cook this dish in a large, tall skillet. Avoid non-stick since it doesn’t hold up well over high heat.

Recipe Variations

  • This recipe can technically be made without the dried shrimp, however, it won’t have the same flavor.
  • If you don’t have dried shrimp, try making a simple bitter melon stir-fry or pair the vegetable with pork for a main dish.


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