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By Yannie Chan | July 8th, 2019

A Hong Kong wet market guide.

If you’re not a regular, going to the wet market can be an overwhelming experience. There are so many choices, a lot of raised voices, and no queuing system at all. But once you know your way around, grocery shopping at the wet market can be such a rewarding experience. And we’re here to help! We’ll be featuring a different seasonal ingredient and inspirational recipe in each of our Market Watch columns. Without further ado: 

“Big Chunk” 大丁 Bitter Melon

大丁 “Big Chunk” bitter melons are stocky and rounded.

大丁 dai6 ding1 “Big Chunk,” a variety of bitter melons found during summer, has a stocky and rounded appearance. Also known as 雷公鑿 lui4 gung1 jawk6 “Thunder God Hammer”, it’s much shorter in length and wider in girth than the usual bitter melons you find in the wet market. 

They are available between May and October, and most are grown locally at New Territories farms. “It has a lovely bittersweet taste,” says 三妹 sahm6 mui6 “Sister Three”, who sources her vegetables daily from local farms for her family-owned stall at Kwun Tong. “While the taste is stronger than the usual bitter melons, it’s actually not as bitter. It’s quite firm, so it has this nice crunchy texture.” 

Look for plump ones with a satiny, untarnished surface and a good amount of tiny, irregular bumps. The size, according to Sister Three, is more of an indication of weather rather than quality. “After heavy rain or when it gets less hot in September and October, they’ll be smaller in size.” A large-sized piece costs around $20 at her stall. 

Not a fan of the bitter taste? The key is to pick one that’s lighter in color. “The dark green ones are much more concentrated in flavor,” she says. “Choose a light green one if you want something less strong.” Another tip is to make sure every bit of the white skin inside is removed. “That’s where the majority of the bitter taste comes from.” 

Easy Recipe Idea: Bitter Melon and Beef Stir-Fry

Sister Three recommends a bitter melon and beef stir-fry 苦瓜炒牛肉 foo2 gwah1 chao2 au4 yook6, a chiu chow dish that’s commonly made at home.

What you’ll need:

  • 大丁 dai6 ding1 bitter melon
  • beef slices
  • garlic
  • soy sauce
  • cooking wine
  • oil
  1. Marinate the beef slices with soy sauce, cooking wine, and oil for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, cut bitter melon in half. Deseed, remove the layer of white skin, and cut into thin slices. Some say to massage the bitter melon in salt first, but I don’t do that as that makes it too soft for my liking.
  2. Add oil to a wok in high heat. Add garlic slices, and when they turn a golden shade, add bitter melons and quickly stir-fry until fragrant. Remove bitter melons from the wok.
  3. Add back oil and garlic. You can add a bit of 豆豉 dou6 see6 fermented black soybeans here, but make sure you don’t stir-fry for too long as they burn easily. Add beef slices as well as the marinade and stir-fry until brown. Add the bitter melons back into the wok, give it a quick stir, and it’s ready to serve.


三妹菜檔 sahm1 mui6 choy3 dawng3 “Sister Three Vegetable Stall”
Stall 43, Shui Wo Street Wet Market, Kwun Tong.