Posted in Experiments

Bitter Melon and Beef in Chili Black-Bean sauce

This is my second culinary experiment using some of the Bitter Melon slices I prepped for the Foodstuffs post some days ago. Again, I decided on a Chinese style dish since these are the Chinese variety of the melon but, this time, the Melon is cooked rather than left raw as it was in my Bitter Melon Salad experiment. I also kicked the spice level up a notch with a Chili Black Bean sauce in order to see how the bitterness of the melon stands up to the heat … 

The Ingredients

I was home all alone this week so I just made a single size portion for me, hence the small amounts of each ingredient. The steak I used was the remaining half of one I cooked up for a steak sandwich earlier the same day. There was about a third of a pound in all and it was a little tough so it needed a bit of preparation. The rest of the ingredient list is as follows:

  • ½ Bitter Melon, de-seed, sliced and blanched for 1 minute
  • ½ medium red pepper
  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • Pinch of salt (not shown)
  • 1 tbsp Chili black bean sauce – Lee Kum Kee Brand
  • ½ a shooter glass of Chinese yellow wine (Use saki or dry sherry, if you like)
  • 1 scallion chopped

By the way, the Lee Kum Kee brand Chili Black Bean paste is a great ingredient and I will feature it a little more depth in an upcoming ‘Foodstuffs’ post shortly.

The Method

Slice your piece of steak in half horizontally. Pound out the two halves until each is about half the original thickness. Slice both pieces into strips about a centimeter wide. You need about one half to one cup of strips in all.

 Marinate the strips with a splash of wine and a pinch each of the sugar and some salt for about 30 minutes. Heat a ½ cup of oil until shimmering and then fry the beef strips until they are brown and getting just a little crispy at the edges. Remove them and drain off all the oil except 1 tablespoon or so.

Add the garlic, and scallion. Fry until just until the aroma arises, then add the pepper and melon. Stir-fry for a minute or so, then add the sugar and half the wine and stir until the wine has evaporated. Add the beef, the sauce and the remaining wine. Stir a few times and plate.

The Verdict

All in all this wasn’t bad. The saltiness of the black beans and the heat of the chili from the sauce really cut the bitterness of the melon as did the sweetness of the sugar and wine. The bitterness wasn’t masked, exactly, rather the other flavors made it more palatable. I can’t say that I have become a devoted fan of Bitter Melon after this experiment but I still enjoyed the dish on the whole.


I am a lawyer by profession and my practice is Criminal... I mean, I specialize in Criminal law. My work involves travelling on Court circuits to remote Arctic communities. In between my travels I write a Food blog at

2 thoughts on “Bitter Melon and Beef in Chili Black-Bean sauce

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