Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Watermelon poke salad bowl with pickled radishes

A couple of weeks ago I ate out at the Green Man's Arms in Carlton.  I enjoyed my meal but I was fascinated by the watermelon poke bowl on the menu.  The watermelon was marinated in ponzu.  I bought some ponzu late last year and was fascinated by it in stirfries and dipping sauce.  Then recently I found an older bottle of Japanese sauce in the back of the pantry and found on the small print that it was ponzu.  It seemed I had a ponzu surplus and a wedge of watermelon was about to solve it.

Now let me stop here to confess I have never been a big fan of watermelon.  Melon was never my sort of fruit.  So as an adult I learnt to eat it but not love it.  I did not attempt watermelon "tuna" because of any desire for watermelon.  No.  It was more a matter of finding a way to use up watermelon.  If I want watermelon, I usually don't want much and it comes in such huge wedges.  So perhaps it was also a case of the ponzu surplus solving my problem of a wedge of watermelon.

And I didn't feel compelled to try watermelon "tuna" because I am a vegetarian who misses fish.  In fact I never was a big fan of seafood and am quite delighted at the thought that I will never eat it again. 

What really fascinates me is dishes that imitate meat with real food.  I don't like all that mock meat stuff at restaurants but I am drawn to simple ideas like carrot hot dogs and tofu bacon.  How amazing that someone looked at a watermelon and saw the marbling effect that looks like meat.  Amazing and a little disturbing.

Yet if you think this might be too like the real thing, when E sat down to eat this dinner, Sylvia tried to trick him into thinking he was being served tuna.  Perhaps it would be more convincing if I had ever had any desire to cook seafood. Being totally unfamiliar with seafood and traditional poke bowls I am not sure if the watermelon did really look like tuna but it did look meaty to my vegetarian eyes.

One last fun bit of experimenting with the meal was pickling the radishes.  Radishes are even further down my radar than watermelon.  I suspect the last time I did anything with radishes in a kitchen was making radish flowers at home economics classes at school.  The pickled radishes were surprisingly good.  Maybe it will not be decades until the next time I have a radish in my kitchen.  And it confirmed my suspicion that I would quite like to made rapid pickled vegetables at home.

I will also mention my glaring omission.  I did not have any avocado.  Most of the poke bowls I looked at online had avocado.  I resent how often avocados are used in vegetarian dishes.  They are expensive and I struggle to make sure they are the right ripeness when I want them.  And I don't like the way they stop young people buying houses (that is a joke before you take umbrage)!

So it was a lot of fun and challenge to make this poke bowl.  But how did it taste?  Pretty good!  Yep.  Not amazing-best-meal-I-have-ever-eaten-I-want-to-eat-this-for-the-rest-of-my-life.  But it was healthy and interesting.  I wasn't wowed by the watermelon because I never am wowed by watermelon.  But I was fascinated by it.  It pains me to say that I think the bowl would have been improved by avocado which would have given it a bit of creamy satisfaction and textural contrast.  But I am glad I tried it. I don't see myself eating lots of poke bowls because it was a bit of work but I think the pickled vegetables are now calling my name.

I am sending this bowl to Eat Your Greens and Souper Sundays.

More watermelon recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Fruit salad (gf, v) 
Rainbow fruit kebabs (gf, v)
Watermelon, banana, strawberry, peach juice (gf, v)
Watermelon curry (gf, v)
Watermelon, mint and feta salad (gf)
Watermelon monster (gf, v)  

Watermelon poke salad bowl with pickled radishes
Serves 3-4

Watermelon "tuna":
800g watermelon, trimmed and cubed
3 tbsp ponzu sauce

Pickled radished:
[adapted from Feed Me Phoebe]
6-8 radishes, trimmed and finely sliced
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
3/4 tsp salt
1 garlic clove, crushed

To serve:
brown rice
purple cabbage, finely sliced
carrot, spiralised or grated
snow peas, finely sliced
cucumber, sliced

To garnish:
black sesame seeds
baby leeks, finely chopped

Also good to serve would be avocado, alfalfa sprouts, chives, spring onions, pickled ginger, pomegranate arils, spinach, rocket, seaweed

To make the watermelon "tuna" marinate watermelon chunks in ponzu sauce for about 15 minutes.  Cook in ponzu on stovetop for about 5-10 minutes until watermelon is softened on the edges.  Return to bowl with sauce and sit until ready to use.  You could make a quick ponzu sauce or bake the watermelon.  Set aside.

To make the pickled radishes, mix the radish slices with the vinegar, salt and garlic.  Set aside for at least 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

To serve, spoon some rice into a shallow bowl, arrange drained watermelon, radishes, and other vegies on the bowl.  Garnish with sesame seeds and baby leeks (or chives or spring onions).  Spoon the remaining ponzu sauce from the watermelon over the bowl.

On the stereo:
The Colour of White: Missy Higgins


  1. What a nice and colourful bowl, and I had never realised the meaty character of watermelon, it is a bit disturbing!
    I feel the same way about avocados that they are in all veggie meals at the moment. My partner doesn't want to buy them "if we want to buy a house in London one day". Haha, that's of course just a bit of good veggie fun!
    Thank you so much for taking part in Eat Your Greens again!

  2. I love this. I pinned a watermelon poke bowl to Pinterest a while ago but haven't gotten around to trying it yet (probably because I do eat fish and enjoy real ahi poke so much!) but your recipe makes me want to try it. Actually your version because it looks better than the one I pinned. ;-)

    Thank you for sharing it with Souper Sundays this week. I have a question--I noticed that you put the link in the comments instead of using the link up button at the bottom of the post--was the link up not working? I can go in and add it myself but just wanted to double check to make sure I don't have a tech issue. Mahalo! Deb

  3. I do love a bit of poke! The last time I made one it had watermelon too and I really enjoyed it (though I think it might be more of a fan of watermelon than you are!) I have no qualms about never eating fish again, but I would miss avocado. I might even forego a mortgage for one or two!

  4. I too am more amazed at how natural fruit and vegetables can mimic meat. I have a vegan salmon recipe bookmarked to make with watermelon, but have not made it as I do not often eat a whole watermelon and that is the only way they sell them in the UK, but I may make an effort the next time i make Watermelon Curry. And your watermelon poke has impressed me very much, so will have to try that soon. I really think we will like it. Thank you so much for sharing this dish with EatYourGreens.

  5. Your tuna bowls are so pretty. I am a watermelon fan but haven't tried it in savoury applications.

  6. I'm delighted that you gave this a go! This dish drew my eye at the Green Man's Arms too. It looks so great with the edamame.

  7. Hmm interesting! I love fish so I don't think I'd rush to make it though.

  8. Ah I wanted to tell you that I looked for ponzu in some of the supermarkets this week and none of them sell it :( I think a trip to a big city with an Oriental Market is on the itenary soon.

  9. This is such an interesting bowl and concept!! I do like watermelon, although don't love it as some do, but would never have thought to use it like this. The bowl looks so bright and summery.

  10. The Eat Your Greens round up is now on my blog. Thank you for this great contribution!


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