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.
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 jalapeño 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.
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.)