This hearty Filipino pork stew is quick to make and features bitter melon, aptly named for its bitter flavour. The bitterness is balanced with the traditional Bagoong sauce, a condiment made from partially fermented fish or prawns and available from selected Asian shops, but can be substituted for fish sauce.






Skill level

Average: 3.2 (30 votes)


  • 1 (about 275 g) bitter melon (see Note)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 400 g pork belly, bones removed, cut into 1 cm-wide pieces
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 cm piece ginger, grated
  • 1 tbsp bagoong sauce (fish paste sauce) (see Note)
  • 500 g kent (or Japanese) pumpkin, peeled, seeded, cut into 3 cm pieces
  • 200 g okra, trimmed
  • 180 ml (¾ cup) chicken stock
  • 4 roma tomatoes, cut into 8 wedges
  • steamed rice and calamansi wedges (see Note) (optional), to serve

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Cut bitter melon in half lengthwise. Using a teaspoon, scrape out seeds and soft interior, and discard. Thickly slice melon.

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add pork and stir for 3 minutes or until golden. Add onions and garlic, and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant. Stir in bagoong sauce, bitter melon, pumpkin, okra and stock. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Remove from heat and stir in tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Return to heat and stir for 3 minutes or until tomatoes start to soften. Serve with rice and calamansi, if desired.


• Bitter melon, named after its bitter flavour, is available from selected supermarkets, greengrocers and Asian food shops.
• Bagoong sauce is a condiment made from partially fermented fish or prawns and is available from selected Asian food shops. Shake the bottle before use. If unavailable, substitute the same amount of fish sauce, which, although acceptable, will not have the same flavour.
• Calamansi are available from selected Asian food shops.



Photography by Janyon.


As seen in Feast magazine, December 2011, Issue 4. For more recipes and articles, pick up a copy of this month's Feast magazine or check out our great subscriptions offers here.