Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Kombu-Cured Watermelon Crudo + Hot Peppers & Chives

This is the particular kind of awesome that comes from brainstorming with a chef like Andrew Adams of Acre Restaurant. While working on a menu for our upcoming Arts Memphis Culinary Series Dinner, we started discussing items that would be great on a shared plate. We started talking about curing, compressing, and drying and what these processes would do the the texture and appearance of different fruits and vegetables. (I know: from this, you are able to gather that we're both unbearably exciting, right?) He landed on a date jerky, and I wanted to try a cured watermelon.

A few days later, Andrew sent me a link to the Studio Kitchen blog recipe, which uses kombu, a type of dried seaweed very high in glutamate, the substance that is responsible for umami and used to cure fish. I decided to give it a shot with watermelon that I had dehydrated enough to give it a concentrated flavor and a meaty texture. I love it!

Special equipment: food dehydrator and vacuum sealer (optional)

Kombu-Cured Watermelon Crudo + Hot Peppers & Chives

1 personal-sized seedless watermelon
4 pieces of kombu (dried seaweed, available at Whole Foods)
Juice from 2 limes
2 jalapeƱo or serrano peppers (very thinly sliced)
good-quality olive oil (to garnish)
Snipped chives (to garnish)
Sea salt flakes and cracked black pepper (to taste)

Cut the watermelon into a large square by trimming off all of the sides to reveal the heart. Trim off any rind that remains. Cut into 2" x 2" x 4" blocks -- you should get 4 from a small watermelon.
Place watermelon blocks into a 125-degree dehydrator for about 4 hours until the short side has reduced by roughly half; at this point, it should measure just over 1". Briefly rinse kombu under cold water and place along the top and bottom of the dehydrated watermelon. Either vacuum seal or place into an airtight container in the fridge overnight.

Remove watermelon from container and discard kombu. Using a sharp knife, thinly slice each block of the watermelon and shingle onto a plate. Garnish each with 1/4 of the lime juice, a few hot pepper slices, a drizzle of 1/4 teaspoon of olive oil, a few chives, and salt and pepper. (Serves 4 as a first course.)


Grace @ FoodFitnessFreshAir said...

At first I thought this read "kombucha-cured watermelon", which I would love as well. But I love how creative this is. My mom throws kombu into the pan a lot when she's pressure cooking rice and adzuki beans.

The Yogi Vegetarian said...

I must say I wasn't sure about the sound of this- until I read the recipe. Time to dust off my dehydrator :)

Neeli said...

Yum! I just did something similar with watermelon and jalapeƱos, and was trying to figure out what to call it. This looks awesome!