Beef with Bitter Gourd

Beef with Bitter Gourd and Black Bean Sauce

Some people may not like Beef with Bitter Gourd and Black Bean Sauce due to the bitter taste of the gourd. However when done well, beef with bitter gourd is a very tasty dish. The beef slices are tender and there is a crunch to the bitter gourd. The salted black bean brings the two ingredients together and gives this dish a nice distinct flavour. Bitter gourd is also called bitter melon.

There are two tricks that need to be mastered for this dish:

  1. How to ensure the beef is tender?

The key is to get the best cut of beef – tenderloin or rib-eye. Also, never add salt to marinade the beef and always mix in a little water to the marinaded beef just before frying. Watch the video below to see how this is done.

2. How to remove the bitterness from the bitter gourd?

I was told the ones that look like a hammer head (instead of a long gourd) are not as bitter. I must say I have never seen a hammer head bitter gourd sold in the markets. Also, choose those with large smooth ridges. To remove the bitterness, make sure you scoop out all the pith and rub salt on the inside of the bitter gourd. Leave it for 15 mins or so before washing off the salt with water.



  • Marinade beef slices for 15 mins.
    • 200 gm beef fillet (cut against the grain, into thin slices)
    • 1 tsp light soya sauce
    • 1 tsp dark soya sauce
    • 1 tsp oyster sauce
    • 1/2 tsp sugar
    • Just before frying, add:
      • 1 tsp sesame oil
      • 1 Tbsp oil
      • 2 tsp cornflour
      • About 3 tsp of water
  • 1 bitter gourd (remove pith and cut into thin slices; rub salt all over for 15 mins, wash off salt)
  • 1/2 cup of chicken stock or water
  • 1 Tbsp salted black bean- tausi (finely pounded)
  • 1/2 Tbsp garlic paste
  • 2 Tbsp cooking wine


1. Fry the beef:

  • Just before frying, add water to the marinaded beef, a little at a time, to reach a spongy consistency.
  • Heat a pan to high heat. Add beef and stir fry for a couple of minutes, till brown. Do not overcook the beef.
  • Splash cooking wine on the side of the pan. Stir fry and then remove & set aside.

2. Fry the bitter gourd:

  • Heat 1 Tbsp of oil. Add finely pounded salted black bean and garlic paste. Fry till fragrant.
  • Add bitter gourd and fry to mix well. Add 1/2 cup of chicken stock or water and fry till the bitter gourd is tender.

3. Add the fried beef and splash some cooking wine on the side of the pan. Stir fry for a minute. Remove and serve immediately.

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