Saturday, January 14, 2012

Bitter Gourd and Chicken Braised with Fermented Bean Paste

This is a common dish that almost every Chinese household would dish up in their kitchen. In my house, we love bitter gourd. Though  some of the bitterness may be lessen by marinating the sliced bitter gourd pieces with some salt, squeeze out some of the bitterness, rinse and cook as usual, I would usually omit this step. As my hubby says, it wouldn't be called a bitter gourd for nothing! This is one dish that you would not find in a Chinese New Year menu, definitely a no-no! In Chinese, bitter gourd melon is known as "fu gua", the word '"fu" meaning bitter, and having this melon at the start of a lunar year means that you will have a year of "bitterness". Nobody would want that! Since Chinese New Year is celebrated for 15 days, then it is alright to consume this melon after that period is over. 

The ingredients needed for this dish : chicken pieces (skinless), slices of bitter gourd, pounded garlic, fermented bean paste and julienned ginger.

A plate of Bitter Gourd and Chicken Braised with Fermented Bean Paste is ready for our dinner.

It is not as bitter as you  imagine it would be. It is really an acquired taste and once you "accept" the bitterness, it is really delicious! There are many varieties of Bitter Gourd Melon, their bitterness varies with  each variety. The one I use above is what we commonly called the Chinese Bitter Gourd. Choose the ones with pale green in colour, it will be less bitter than the dark ones.

Bitter Gourd is good for you! It is low in calories and has high dietary fiber. It has excellent source of nutrients with vitamins B1, B2, B3, magnesium, folic acid, Vitamin C, zinc, phosphorus, manganese and rich in iron. It contains twice the beta-carotene of broccoli, twice the calcium of spinach and twice the potassium of a banana! Wow! All the goodness and delicious too! Have you tried Bitter Gourd Melon before, if not, then give it a try!  

Bitter Gourd and Chicken Braised with Fermented Bean Paste
(by kitchen flavours)
1 medium bitter gourd
1 whole chicken thigh, skinned, and cut to small bite-sized pieces
1 tablespoon cornflour
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoon cooking oil
1-2 tablespoon ginger, julienned
4 garlic cloves, pounded
1 tablespoon fermented beans paste
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon black soy sauce
1 teaspoon light soy sauce or to taste
1/2 cup warm water

  1. Cut bitter gourd to half lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop out seeds and discard. Cut bitter gourds to 1-1/2" to 2" lengths and slice lengthwise to about 1/2 inch thickness.
  2. Marinate chicken pieces with cornflour and 1 tablespoon water. Keep aside for 10 minutes.
  3. Heat oil. When oil is hot, add in ginger, stir for a minute until fragrant. Add in pounded garlic, fermented beans paste, and stir for about 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
  4. Add in the chicken pieces and stir until chicken is no longer pink. Add water, stir to combine and cover, lower heat and simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring once or twice. 
  5. Add in bitter gourd, oyster sauce, black soy sauce, light soy sauce and stir till well combined. 
  6. Cover and continue to simmer, stirring now and then, adding a little water if appears dry, until bitter gourd is tender and chicken is cooked.
  7. Dish up and serve hot.


  1. As a Filipina, I love bitter gourd!

  2. I love this dish!!!!!!!!! unfortunately my hubby and kids don't so only can drool over yours. hahaha

  3. Very delicious and tempting combination of bitter gourd and chicken.

    Hamaree Rasoi

  4. This is really interesting, I ve never eaten anything similar before!

  5. Wow super tempting dish,makes me drool.

  6. Don't mind eating this anytime of the year...apa mao pantang pantang! haahaa..peria ni dari lu punya garden kah lu beli?

  7. i love bittergourd..sometimes when i just crave for it, i will just cook them like this way without meat. you are right..a lot of chinese prefer not to eat bittergourd during cny..we dont want to be bitter all year round..hahah!

  8. Very interesting. I will have to buy bittergourd next time I visit my local Asian market. I have never eaten it. Thanks. Kirsten

  9. luce rico y sabroso pero nunca lo he probado,no he visto esas verduras,abrazos hugs,hugs.

  10. Bitter gourd is something I have never tried - actually I have never seen it available here in New Zealand. This looks like a lovely dish though - I would try this maybe with some eggplant instead of the bitter gourd.
    Sue xo

  11. I love bitter gourd. This looks really appetizing.

  12. I have seen bitter gourd around but have not tried it yet. Looks like a wonderful and comforting dish!
    Hope you are having a great weekend :)

  13. I can finally comment on your blog!! That took a while!!

  14. I have never had great luck cooking with bitter gourd. I trust your recipes, so I'll give this dish a try and see what happens. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  15. Everything looks so tender and juicy!

  16. this is my mom's favourite dish whenever she bought a bittergourd...quite delicious once you get pass the bitter taste of gourd:)

  17. Hi Kitchen Flavours.....very healthy food this. Looks really a three plates of rice disappearing dinner, and loosen belt one notch after, ha ha.
    Where you learn to cook all these? Mother or grandmother's tuition? Hands on hips looking over your shoulder? Ha ha.
    Have fun,

  18. the fermented bean paste sounds like it is perfect for this dish and so flavorful!


  20. Merhaba,ellerinize sağlık,sevgilerrrr...

  21. I have a lot to learn from you for Chinese cooking. This dish looks delicious.

  22. This is the kind of dish that my family would serve. Our favorite is bitter gourd with black bean and spareribs.

  23. Oh how I wish I could just have a nibble of this, Joyce. It looks simply heavenly and yet I just know mine would never come out the same:)

    Thank you too for giving some insight to the foods served or in this case not served for Chinese New Year. I do wish I knew a bit more about the holiday. For instance, I had no idea it lasted for 15 days. Party!!!

    Thanks again for sharing...

  24. to make the bittergourd less bitter we usually mashed it with salt and wash it with warm water...I love to try this recipe.

  25. This sounds like a yummy and nice recipe!! gloria

  26. That is really stunning--I've never cooked with bitter gourds, but this looks amazing!


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