Canh Khổ Qua – Vietnamese Stuffed Bitter Melon Soup

Canh khổ qua (Canh mướp đắng)- This soup stuffed with bitter melon is a tasty Vietnamese “soup”, stuffed with mushrooms, pork noodles, and mung beans simmered to soften the melon in a mild chicken broth.

As a child my parents could not convince me to take this dish however, I’ve grown to love this food.

My Canh Kho Qua recipe

This is usually an absolute no, or better yet, a no-no situation for the majority of people. However, you ever get the chanceto give it a try. It’s true that the bitterness could be quite a ride after a few bites, but this taste is getting more and more appealing to me!

Have you acquired a taste?

There is a saying that you begin to appreciate bitter food as you age and this is the case for me. Alongside beer, coffee and a lot of raw vegetables canh kho-qua is something I really enjoy that I didn’t enjoy 10 years before.

Black coffee pour-over is something that I am crazy about at the moment (currently waiting for a bag of Stumptown beans! ) along with occasional Vietnamese egg coffee. I’m sure that you consume lots of food today which you wouldn’t have ago, aren’t you?

Additionally, these bitter melons are filled with meat and cooked in a delicious soup that balances the bitter flavor quite nicely.

Bitter melon, strange name

“Kho qua” is the name of this melon’s name in Vietnamese and roughly translates to “difficulty/hardship passed.” Most of my relatives that were born in Vietnam don’t know the reason for this and were astonished that I even asked , since evidently it’s just the name for the plant.

It turns out that this is a plant from Africa however, it has been utilized for many centuries for centuries in Chinese popular medicine (wiki hyperlink for momordica charantia) traditional medicine. Hong and Kim from The Ravenous Couple, actually mentioned it In Chinese Mandarin, bitter melon is “ku gua.”

Being able to see the word kho the word qua in the context of the ku gua is highly likely, considering that this Vietnamese language was heavily influenced by China and is a part of the vocabulary. I’m learning sporadic words from my grandma and she frequently tells me that the word she’s referring to is an Chinese word!

A dish from bitter melon that you may like: Kho Qua Xao Trung – Bitter Melon Egg Stir-Fry

It’s often referred to as bitter melon or bitter gourd it’s a common name for us!

Where to Purchase Bitter Melon

Where can you locate these bitter snacks we refer to as bitter melon? They’re a staple of Chinese, Indian, and various other Asian food styles the best option is to go to your nearby Asian supermarket! I’m not aware of ever seeing this melon being sold in any American super-marts.

The kind you’ll be using to make this particular recipe the Chinese type. It’s more round at the end and more smooth as opposed to the pointed Indian varieties. From my experience, some are believed to be more bitter than others however it’s an open-ended question. I’d like to know any advice you can offer on picking the best bitter melons by leaving a comment below!

What’s your opinion?

My mom’s Stuffed Bitter Melon Soup recipe

So , what do you think on bitter melon? Heck either way or no? Perhaps you prefer it in a different way? Let me know by leaving a comment below!

See more other Vietnamese Soup (Canh)

Canh Khổ Qua- Vietnamese Stuffed Bitter Melon Soup

Vietnamese bitter melon, stuffed with mushrooms, pork and mung beans and simmered in a mild and delicious chicken broth creates an amazing combination and a light soup!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course, Soup
Cuisine vietnamese
Servings 4
Calories 346 kcal


  • 4 bitter melons 5-6″ long or 3 bitter melons 8″ long


  • 1 medium onion ~2/3 cup chopped
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1/2 cup hydrated wood ear mushrooms chopped (pictured on my egg roll recipe )
  • 1 pack of dried mung bean noodles chopped. ~1 cup hydrated. (also pictured on my egg roll recipe )
  • 2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon fish sauce optional


  • 3 cups broth
  • 4.5 cups water
  • sugar and salt for seasoning the broth


  • cilantro chopped
  • green onions chopped


  • Soak the bean threads into hot tap water, and mushrooms in 40 seconds of microwaved hot tap water, until it becomes soft. It should take about 10 minutes. Remove and rinse the mushrooms well.
  • Make a slit in each bitter melon , and then remove the seeds using the help of a spoon. Sometimes, it won't open correctly, so you'll have to cut the melon into two halves lengthwise. Then, just put the filling in.
  • Bring the broth and water to the point of boiling in a saucepan with a high flame and set aside approximately 1 cup to adjust the seasoning.
  • Include the stuffed bitter melons
  • Reduce heat to the lowest level of boiling, and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until mylons that are bitter and fork tender.
  • The water has evaporated and the food will have released seasonings to the broth make sure to taste it before adding sugar and salt according as you like or add hot water to make it less diluted.
  • Cut bitter melons into 1.5-2 length pieces.
  • Garnish with green onion and cilantro Serve with broth.


Update: You can add any mushrooms or vegetables you like to the filling. Carrots, eggs or corn…
Keyword canh kho qua recipe, Vietnamese Stuffed Bitter Melon Soup

One Response

  1. Mia August 22, 2023

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