Pork-Stuffed Bitter Melon Soup (Canh Kho Qua)


  • Prep Time20 mins
  • Total Time1 hr 5 mins
  • Makes4 servings
Pork-Stuffed Bitter Melon Soup (Canh Kho Qua)

Produced by Irene Ngo. Photography by Maya Visnyei. Food styling by Michael Elliott. Prop styling by Catherine Doherty. Makeup and hair by Sophie Hsin. Wardrobe by Space Vintage. Creative direction by Sun Ngo.

Chatelaine Triple Tested

I’ve loved bitter melon since I was a child, especially in my mom’s soup. Trying to replicate her recipe from memory was a fun challenge since her instructions were always ‘a little bit of fish sauce to taste.’ — Sun Ngo, Creative Director.


  • 1/2 50-g bundle dried mung bean noodles

  • 5 g dried wood ear mushrooms, (1/4 cup after rehydrated in water)

  • 3 bitter melons, about 800 g

  • 250 g lean ground pork

  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced

  • 4 tsp fish sauce

  • 1 tsp granulated sugar

  • 1/4 tsp salt


  • 3 cups chicken broth

  • 1 1/2 tbsp fish sauce

  • 1 tsp granulated sugar

  • cilantro leaves, for garnish (optional)

  • Finely chopped green onions, for garnish (optional)


  • Soak mung bean noodles and wood ear mushrooms in a bowl filled with very hot water. Let stand until they rehydrate, about 10 min.

  • Meanwhile, carefully cut a slit lengthwise down each bitter melon, about halfway through. (Don’t cut melons in half.) Use your fingers or a spoon to scoop out and discard the seeds inside.

  • Drain the noodles and mushrooms, then finely chop. Combine with pork, green onions, 4 tsp fish sauce, 1 tsp sugar and salt in a large bowl. Season with pepper. Stuff bitter melons with filling, without tearing melons.

  • Broth: Combine 3 cups water, broth, 1 1/2 tbsp fish sauce and 1 tsp sugar in a large pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. Add stuffed melons to broth. (Cut in half, crosswise, if they won’t fit whole.) Simmer until fork-tender, 35 to 40 min.

  • Remove melons from broth and cut crosswise into 2-in. rounds. Divide melon and broth among 4 bowls. Top with cilantro and green onions. Serve with rice, if desired.

Nutrition (per serving)

Calories 268, Protein 16g, Carbohydrates 18g, Fat 15g, Fibre 4g, Sodium 2111mg.

Kitchen Tip

Form any extra filling into 1-in.-diameter meatballs and add to the broth along with melons.

Get more of the Chatelaine team's favourite comfort-food recipes, from pierogies to braised ribs.