Vietnamese Bitter Melon Stir-Fry with Eggs is a quick and tasty dish with health benefits. It requires very few ingredients and you need just one pan to cook it.
What is Bitter Melon
Bitter Melon (or bitter gourd) is called “muop dang” or “kho qua” in Vietnamese. “Muop dang” is literally the word-by-word Vietnamese translation for bitter melon. “Kho qua” means bitter living conditions are now in the past.
In both languages, the name doesn’t sound very appealing, right? The vegetable looks funny and has a bitter flavor, which I think turn a lot of people off. I will share a few tips to reduce its bitterness in the next section.
I admit I used to hate it with a passion when I was a kid. My mom kept making it every week and explaining over and over again how healthy bitter melon was. In Vietnam, it is believed that bitter melon can help regulate blood sugar and detox liver.
In Vietnamese cuisine, bitter melon is cooked with other ingredients to offset the bitterness. One of the most popular ways to cook this vegetable is stir-frying it with eggs.
I can’t say I’m a fan of bitter melon but when prepared properly, this bitter melon egg stir-fry is pretty tasty because the richness of eggs helps tone down the bitterness. The dish is light with soft scrambled eggs and crunchy bitter melon.
How to Make Bitter Melon Less Bitter
Not all bitter melons are the same. I find that some are less bitter than others. When choosing bitter melons, try to find ones that have few and smooth ridges. The more ridges and the sharper and harder the ridges, the more bitter it will be.
Another tip is to slice bitter melon thinly and then soak in a bowl of salted water to reduce the bitterness. I saw this tip on a Vietnamese magazine and it really helps make the taste more palatable.
In this stir-fried bitter melon with eggs dish, in particular, using more eggs will also make the dish more enjoyable. If you still think you cannot handle the bitterness of bitter melon, I recommend this Stir-fried Cucumber with Egg instead.
A friend recently told us that his mom briefly blanched bitter melon in boiling water to reduce the bitterness. I think the method sounds easy and makes sense.
How to Prepare Bitter Melon For Stir-Frying
First, you will need to slice bitter melon in half length-wise. Then use a small spoon to scoop out all the white, soft part with seeds inside. Slice very thinly into half-moons and soak them in salted water.
How to Cook Vietnamese Bitter Melon Stir-Fry with Eggs
We call this dish “muop dang xao trung” or “kho qua xao trung” in Vietnamese. It is a great dish to make for weeknight dinners because it requires very few ingredients and can be cooked quickly in one pan.
The main ingredients are bitter melon, eggs, cooking oil and seasonings. Be light on the seasonings since we want the richness of the eggs to shine.
I like to add a dash of fish sauce for some umami, but you can substitute with soy sauce or a bit more salt to keep the dish vegetarian.
After draining bitter melon slices, sauté them until they start to turn yellow or until they are soft to your liking. The next step should be done very quickly.
Pour the beaten eggs into the pan, pull the eggs towards the center of the pan to form large curds. Then just give everything in the pan a quick stir before transferring to a serving plate.
Read more about our favorite technique to scramble/stir-fry eggs in this Crab Scrambled Eggs recipe.
Don’t overcook the eggs but don’t leave it too runny. I like to have soft and fluffy curds. Best to use low heat so you can control the doneness on the eggs. Also, use a non-stick pan, the kind of pan that you use to make scrambled eggs. Mine is a Scanpan non-stick skillet.
I’d love to hear what you think about the dish, so please feel free to leave a comment. New recipes are added every week so let’s connect on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram for the latest updates. You can find my collection of Vietnamese recipes here.
Vietnamese Bitter Melon Stir-Fry with Eggs
- 1 bitter melon (about 5-6 oz)
- 3-4 large eggs (about 2/3-3/4 cup beaten eggs)
- olive oil
- dash of fish sauce (or soy sauce or more salt to keep it vegetarian)
- black pepper
- Slice bitter melon in half length-wise and scoop out all the white, soft part with seeds inside. Slice very thinly into half-moons.
- Put the bitter melon slices into a bowl and cover with cold water. Add about a teaspoon of salt to the bowl and soak the bitter melon for 20-30 minutes. Then drain.
- Crack eggs into a bowl and beat well. Season with a pinch of salt.
- Place a non-stick pan over medium heat. Add olive oil and then add drained bitter melon slices. Sauté until they start to turn slightly yellow, or until they are soft to your liking. Season with salt and a dash of fish sauce.
- Lower the heat to low – medium low. Spread bitter melon slices evenly on the pan and then pour beaten eggs into the pan.
- Use a spatula or wooden spoon to pull the eggs towards the center of the pan to form large curds. You will have bitter melon slices and egg curds pile up in the center of the pan. Flip the pile over, then give everything in the pan a quick stir. This should be done quickly to avoid over-cooking the eggs.
- Once the eggs are cooked to your liking, transfer everything to a serving plate. Sprinkle freshly cracked black pepper on top.