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Braised Chicken with Bitter Melon

by · 7 comments
Ever tried bitter melon? It’s just like coriander. People either hate it or love it. In Chinese cooking, bitter melon is often used to stir fry or braise with all kind of meats. This braised chicken with bitter melon is very popular in Hong Kong. It tastes so good and perfectly goes with a bowl of steamed rice.

Bitter melon goes very well with chicken. My family loves this dish so much. Give it a try if you’re into bitter melon.

Braised Chicken with Bitter Melon02

My mum used to tame its bitterness by putting a small piece of brown slab sugar (片糖) while cooking bitter melon. The brown slab sugar is not as sweet as regular white sugar, and gives a depth of flavours. You might like to omit it though. Some other people don’t mind its bitterness, or even enjoy it.

Braised Chicken with Bitter Melon Recipe

(Printable recipe)

Course: Braised
Cuisine: Chinese
Prep time:
Cook time:
Yield: 2 to 3 serves

Braised Chicken with Bitter Melon03

  • 2 (about 325 gm) bitter melon
  • 350 gm chicken thigh
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tsp black bean garlic sauce
  • 20 gm brown slab sugar (片糖), roughly chopped
  • 150 ml water
  • 1 tsp light soy sauce
  • ¼ tsp dark soy sauce
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp corn flour (corn starch)
  • ½ tsp shaoxing wine
  • white pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp corn flour (corn starch)
  • 1 Tbsp water

Braised Chicken with Bitter Melon Procedures

Method :
  1. Rinse the chicken thigh. Wipe dry. Cut into pieces. Mix with marinade for about 20 minutes. Set aside.
  2. Cut the bitter melon in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds and pith from the middle with a spoon. Cut into large chunks. Mix with 2 large teaspoons of salt. Set aside for 10 minutes. Blanch in boiling water for about 2 minutes. Drain up. Immediately rinse with tap water. Drain well. Set aside.
  3. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a wok. Add the chicken. Cook until both sides are lightly brown. You don’t need to cook through the chicken at this stage. Dish up for later use.
  4. In the same wok, add some oil. Saute garlic and black bean garlic sauce. Stir in the bitter melon. Add the brown slab sugar. Toss back the chicken. Pour in water. Bring it to a boil. Cover with a lid and cook until the chicken is cooked through and the bitter melon turns soft. Remove the lid. Cook until the sauce is reduced by half. Add the thickening and cook to your preferred consistency. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

  • If you want to reduce the bitterness of the bitter melon, you might squeeze out its juice after mixing with salt after 10 minutes. Then blanch in boiling water.
  • Black bean garlic sauce is available at Asian grocers.
  • To get the best results, use chicken thighs with bones. The bones will give more flavours to the whole dish.


  1. Hi Christine! May I use granulated dark or light brown sugar instead of the slab variety...or use a small block of palm sugar? Bitter melon has a very refreshing quality. It's too hot to make it now but I'll save this recipe. Thank you for the recent fried noodle recipe, too. Kind regards.

  2. I miss bitter gourd so much! Used to have them very often during the summer time. Your braised chicken looks so yummy.

  3. Hi Dorothy,
    Thanks for dropping by. I only adapted my mum's cooking way.
    Feel free to experiment with what you've got in handy. There's no right or wrong way as long as you like it.
    Happy cooking!

  4. Rather than blanch the bitter melon I just quickly cook in a hot wok in oil for a few minutes. I also added a tsp of minced ginger. I also just use minced garlic from a jar as is saves a lot of time and reduces cleanup.

  5. Hi Linden,
    Nice sharing and hacks. Thank you.

  6. Hi Christine. If I wanted to substitute black beans for the black bean sauce, what would you advise adding besides black beans? Can’t wait to try this, bitter is a flavour I have come to appreciate

  7. It's no problem to use black beans instead.You can press the black beans into paste and saute for a few seconds and bring out its aroma.