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Jul 18, 2006 05:32 PM

Do people really like bitter melon?

There is a discussion going on the SF board right now and I'm a little annoyed. It turns out people really DON'T like bitter melon all that much.

I'm annoyed because I have tried in the past to show my appreciation for all things Chinese and not being a food wimp ... yeah, bitter melon ... I'll have that ... yeah, uh ... interesting ... I like the contrast of ...

Well, you get the idea ... my little culinary tap dance not to look like a doof because ... yes ... I'll admit it here ... I really DON'T like bitter melon !!!

However, the mention of bitter rmelon ice cream in this thread has me intrigued ... and bitter melon chips ... where can I get those? They might pair up nice WITH the ice cream.

Here's the topic on the SF Board

Supposedly it is a food that once you aquire a taste it is a craving. Also, it is 'old people's food' because most people don't like it until later in life ... Don't trust any bitter melon until you are over 30.

Too bad because it is supposed to clear acne ... and for the older folks, good for diabetes according to folk lore.

Supposedly Okinawans LOVE bitter melon, but one person thought the bitter melon drink "tastes like evil". There is an Okinawan dish - goya champuru -- bitter melon stirfried with tofu, Spam and egg. Yikes.

One poster said "There are a couple of preps that reduce the bitterness to just a hint and actually, after eating, leaves a cool, tingling sensation in the back of your throat (kinda like artichokes)."

The white bitter melons, grown wrapped in newspaper, are supposed to be milder. Also putting it in soup or as an accent is supposed to be the way to go. Salting, blanching or pickling it cuts the bitterness ... a bit.

The Chinese term for it is really translated to cool/cold melon.

Here's a Wikipedia article (pretty flower). There's a link at the end to The National Bitter Melon Council which celebrated bitter melon week in July 2005.

So, do YOU like bitter melon?

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  1. winter melon is the one that is translated to cold melon. in cantonese, "dong gua". bitter melon is "fu gua". and the translations is.. bitter melon.

    i hated it as a kid. my mother made bitter melon soup and forced me to drink it because it's supposedly good for me. i had to hold my nose and force it down.

    now, i like it. i like the bitterness. i like it when she makes bitter melon with beef in a black bean and garlic sauce. i also occasionally get it at dim sum if they have it. never craved it though... except now. that's a first.

    4 Replies
    1. re: rolypoly

      No "dong gua" is winter melon. "dong" refers to the cold season, i.e. winter, not cold melon. Another name for bitter melon is "leung gua", "leung" meaning "cool".

      1. re: PeterL

        you're right. i forget fu gua is also called leung gua. actually when you order in restaurants, they call it leung gua. but i'm used to calling it fu gua at home. my chinese sucks. spent thousands on chinese lessons and i really don't have much to show for it. :\

      2. re: rolypoly

        This is the only way I can stand eating it. Black bean and garlic sauce. I think every other way is just too much for me. My brother and parents think I'm the weird one for not liking it so much. Yes as a kid who wouldn't think this is disgusting stuff?? Better now that I'm older, but ordering at a restaurant?? why torture myself?!?!?

        1. re: rolypoly

          LOL, i could totally remember me and my brother doing the same thing, hold our nose and just suck it up, with our mom standing next to us. how i miss those soups, sighs..

        2. I used to hate it as a child, but my mother loved the stuff. She stuffed it with meat and cooked it in a delicious sauce. We would pick out the meat, eat the sauce and leave the rings of melon behind.

          The expression I remember is that bitter melon "cools the blood", it's a yang food. Lots of people swear by its antioxidant properties.

          Now I'm older I've grown to like it occasionally, just as I like other bitter foods - kale, broccoli rabe, mustard greens - but fu gua is a whole different level of intense bitterness.

          1. See this link for a similar discussion on the LA Board last year:


            Me? I love the stuff.

            1. Okinawans call it goya, but Japanese call in nigauri, which I think literally translates to "bitter melon."

              Here's a link to a goya recipe contest held in Honolulu:


              There's a couple of recipes at the end, including one for raspberry bittermelon ice cream.

              1. i personally do not like bitter melon - yet. growing up my father and grandparents grew bitter melon on the back porch. we had vines full of these white warty looking gourds. whenever i saw they were big enough to eat i knew i would be forced to eat some. of course, my dad never made me eat a lot of it. he said i had to taste some so that i would like it later on, when i grew up. i think that's the way. it's definitely an acquired taste. i don't like it yet, but i try it once in a while to see whether that's changed. have other peoples' chinese parents made them eat bitter melon, saying you'd like it when you were older?