Spicy Bitter-Melon Beef – 辣味苦瓜炒牛肉片

Spicy Bitter-Melon Beef - 辣味苦瓜炒牛肉片

Spicy Bitter-Melon Beef, or 辣味苦瓜炒牛肉片, pairs the bitter vegetable with tender beef, Chili and the umami notes of Chinese Salted Black Beans.

I conceived of this dish when looking to put together a Bitter Melon recipe and Beef seemed like a good pairing, especially as I happened to have a small piece of steak going wanting. For a little bit of fire and added umami depth, I decided that this would be a good place to use just a little touch of the Lee Kum Kee Brand Chili Black Bean Sauce.

Ingredient Notes for Spicy Bitter-Melon Beef

Beef, Bitter Melon and Red Bell Pepper

You do not need a super expensive cut of beef for Spicy Bitter-Melon Beef . The small steak you see above is a cut designed for braising rather than grilling and is a bit tougher than, say, a Filet Mignon. To prepare this sort of cut, slice your piece of steak in half horizontally, then pound out the two halves until each is about half the original thickness. Slice both pieces into strips about a centimeter wide.

You can see how both the Red Pepper and the Bitter Melon have been sliced in the above picture. The Pepper needs no further processing but it is best to blanche the Melon in Boiling salted water for a minute or so (and then plunge it into cold water to arrest the cooking). This will make it a little more crisp-tender after the secondary cooking and will also help preserve the pretty green color.

The recipe card below calls for a whole Tablespoon of sugar. This may be a little bit too much for those who are used to eating Bitter Melon and who love the bitterness. I have created this recipe more for those who are a little unfamiliar with the vegetable (which is really only starting to become widely available in the west), and for whom the bitter taste might be a little strong. Feel free to vary the amount of sugar to your taste.

Your Recipe Card for 辣味苦瓜炒牛肉片:

Spicy Bitter-Melon Beef

Spicy Bitter-Melon Beef pairs the bitter vegetable with tender beef enhanced with chili and the umami notes of Chinese Salted Black Beans.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: Beef, Bitter Melon, Chili, Chinese Salted Black Beans
Servings: 4 as one dish in a Chinese meal
Author: John Thompson


  • 1/3 – 1/2 lb Beef Steak strips
  • 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
  • 1 tbsp Chili Black Bean Sauce – Lee Kum Kee Brand
  • 2 – 3 Tbsp Shaoxing Wine
  • 1 scallion chopped


  • 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 peppers 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.

Comments, questions or suggestions most welcome!