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Bitter Melon Tofu Stir-Fry (Vegan, Gluten-Free)

Sharon Palmer

Have you seen the Asian vegetable bitter melon at the farmers market or even your supermarket and wondered about it? This bumpy, lumpy veggie might not be pretty to look at, but it’s one that you might want to get to know a little bit better. Bitter melon has been linked to some health benefits, such as glucose lowering benefits, and it also has a rich nutritional profile, which includes vitamins A and C, folate, and fiber, all in a skinny 16 calorie per serving package. This vegetable in the gourd family is used in China, South America and India as a traditional medicine and delicious ingredient in many dishes. Read more about the diabetes benefits of bitter melon in my blog here. This cucumber-sized vegetable has a white-green bumpy exterior, but you can eat the peel. Bitter melon gets its name for a good reason, it’s really bitter! But you can do a few things to tame its bitter taste. My farmer at the farmers market tells me the lighter-colored bitter melons have less bitterness, compared with the deeper green-colored ones. In order to remove some of the bitter flavor, blanch sliced bitter melon in boiling, lightly salted water for one minute, and then drop in an ice bath before you use it in dishes. I think bitter melon is especially good in Asian dishes, such as stir-fries, egg rolls, and soups. I created this easy recipe for Bitter Melon Tofu Stir-Fry below as your first introduction to this vegetable. Give it a try!

Learn more about how to cook with bitter melon here.


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Bitter Melon Tofu Stir-Fry (Vegan, Gluten-Free)

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(3 votes, average: 4.00 out of 5)

  • Author: The Plant-Powered Dietitian
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 13 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x


This easy stir-fry is a great way to give the intriguing vegetable bitter melon a try.




  1. Slice bitter melon in half horizontally, scoop out seeds, and slice.
  2. Bring a small pot of lightly salted water to boil, place sliced bitter melon in water, cover, and boil for 1 minute. Drain and place in ice water bath until cool.
  3. Heat sesame oil in a large skillet or wok and add onions, carrots, garlic, ginger, and bell pepper, sautéing for 6 minutes.
  4. Add mushrooms and sauté for 2 minutes.
  5. Add cooked bitter melon and tofu, and sauté for an additional 2 minutes, until heated through and vegetables are crisp-tender.
  6. While vegetables are cooking, prepare the sauce by combing soy sauce, agave syrup, rice wine vinegar, sriracha sauce, water, and corn starch in a small bowl, mixing until smooth. Pour into skillet, and stir fry until sauce is thickened, about 1-2 minutes
  7. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  8. Serve over cooked whole grains, such as brown rice, quinoa, or farro.
  • Category: Entree
  • Cuisine: Chinese


  • Serving Size: 1 serving
  • Calories: 183
  • Sugar: 1 g
  • Sodium: 457 mg
  • Fat: 8 g
  • Saturated Fat: 1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 20 g
  • Fiber: 5 g
  • Protein: 9 g

Keywords: vegan dinner, vegan stir fry, bitter melon recipe

For other delicious, Asian plant-based dishes, try some of my favorites: 

Grilled Spicy Asian Tofu
Thai Tofu Veggie Noodle Bowl
Thai-Inspired Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad

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