By Carl Hanson

What is bitter melon?

Bitter melon is a sharp-tasting, funky looking fruit and a staple of many Asian cuisines. Bitter melon is in the gourd family, along with zucchini, cucumbers, pumpkins, and squash. It's easy to prep and takes to any number of delicious preparations like stir-fries, soups, and curries.

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Bitter Melon Health Benefits

Bitter melon nutrition and health benefits are legit. These bitter squash are a solid source of Vitamins C and A, and folate, and it's high in fiber, while being low in calories. What's more, it's suspected of having cancer-fighting benefits and may cut triglycerides and decrease cholesterol levels, including LDL cholesterol, the so-called "bad" cholesterol.

Some favorite bitter melon recipes

Here's how to cook bitter melon:

1. Pinakbet

"This is a vegetable dish from the Philippines that can be served as an everyday dish or when you have company," says lola. "Since it also contains pork and prawns, you can eat it as a one-pot meal."

Photo by Riena

2. Bitter Melon, Zucchini, and Eggs

This quick savory recipe combines veggies like bitter melon, zucchini, and bell peppers with garlic, eggs, and two kinds of cheese. "I have become a big fan of the healthy bitter melon and grow them in my garden," says Ghostpepper. "I created my own simple recipes to complement this wonderful fruit. I hope you will enjoy. Cut into slices to serve."

3. Minh-ai's Bitter Melon Soup

"A Vietnamese-style pork and bitter melon recipe my friend Minh-ai N. taught me to make," says AM1408. "It's a homey dish popular in Vietnamese and Chinese cuisine. Its unusual bitter flavor is on par with strong, unsweetened tea. Serve immediately or refrigerate soup for 24 hours. The soup's bitter flavor will mellow with a day's refrigeration. Serve hot, ladled over bowls of steamed white rice. "

4. Bitter Melon and Black Bean Sauce Beef

Here's a quick-cooking dish made with beef, bitter melon, onions, garlic, and ginger, and then covered with a delicious black bean sauce. "A classic Chinese bitter melon dish that can be made with chicken instead of beef," says Doug Wah. "If chicken is used, cooking time will be more depending on the thickness of the chicken pieces."

Photo by Terry

5. Ratatouille with Bitter Melon

"This is Okinawa-inspired, as we've added bitter melon as one of the main ingredients," says Pearl Ishizaki. "Bitter melon is one of the vegetables that makes Okinawa prefecture famous in Japan. Try this recipe at home and you'll be surprised how delicious it is."

6. Bitter Melon and Brinjal (Eggplant) Relish

"This Filipino vegetable relish is a good side dish for any meal," says lola. It features bitter melon, eggplant, carrots, and green chile peppers.

7. Goya Champuru (Bitter Melon Stir Fry)

"This is a traditional Okinawan dish with Asian bitter melon," says Travis. "I was introduced to it during my time there. I've combined a few different recipes into this one here. You can also add Spam; it's pretty popular on Okinawa. Please note that the bitter melon has a very different taste, but its very good once you get used to it. It's also ridiculously healthy."

Photo by Irene

8. Pork Stuffed Bitter Melon

"This is a classic Chinese dish," says tonytsang. "Bitter melon is stuffed with a delicious mixture of minced pork, then pan-fried and simmered with a garlic and black bean sauce. Serve with freshly cooked rice."

9. Beef Short Ribs Rice Bowl (Gyu Kalbi Don)

"Here's a quick Japanese beef rice bowl called gyu kalbi don, featuring marinated short ribs, bitter melon, and myoga.

Check out our collection of Bitter Melon Recipes.