by Grace Young
Using watermelon rind may have come about from the Chinese being frugal, leaving nothing to waste; much like the Italians, using up stale bread, by creating the bread and tomato salad, Panzanella.
You may recall, that our last recipe was Stir-Fried Fuzzy Melon with Ginger Pork. It is said that you can substitute the fuzzy melon (which is not an actual melon, but part of the gourd family) with watermelon rind.
Grace and Matt, our fearless leaders of Wok Wednesdays, decided we should make that recipe once again using the watermelon rind, to see how it compares in taste and texture to the fuzzy melon version.
When I decided to make this, I really did not feel like making a trip to the grocery store for the pork that is called for in the recipe. So I decided to opt for the rind and tomato version that was mentioned in Grace's story in the book.
Mise en place.
1. Watermelon rind
Grace says it is best to use seeded watermelons, as opposed to seedless for they have a thicker rind.
I had already purchased the watermelon (seedless) in the event I could not find fuzzy melon, before reading which type is best for this stir-fry. The rind of my melon was just over a quarter-inch thick, a little thicker in some areas - the seeded melons should have around a half-inch thick rind.
To prepare the rind, you need to remove the tough outer green skin, and cut away the red flesh - you just want to use the white portion of the melon - a little colored flesh is OK - you don't need to go crazy getting it all off, and it's actually very pretty when there is a little bit left on.
As you may already know, watermelon is 92% water (source). As is mentioned in the book, I sprinkled the rind with salt, and let this sit for about thirty minutes to remove any excess water.
The rind, when eaten raw, was surprisingly similar to the fuzzy melon in texture. I can not really give a fair assessment in taste to the comparison to the fuzzy melon when cooked, for my watermelon was about two weeks old, and I did not make the same recipe as before. The rind (raw), had a barely discernible taste of cucumber (which the fuzzy melon tastes like to me) - I really had to taste and think about it for a minute, I'm sure it was because my melon was not fresh.
I know my fellow wokkers will have great success with substituting the rind for fuzzy melon in the original recipe. It's nice to know that when fuzzy melon is unavailable, there is a comparable alternative that mimics the original ingredient.
To see what this week's recipe is supposed to look like, click here.
I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome of this stir-fry. I was not expecting a whole lot of flavor from just the rind, tomatoes, and a sprinkling of sugar. Apparently I am getting enough patina on my wok, that it is giving my foods that wok-hei* (pronounced wok-hay) flavor.
We eat a fair amount of watermelon in our household, so I'm sure I'll be stir-frying up another batch of this prepared the same way, or revisit the fuzzy melon recipe, or even try one of the recipes I came across on the watermelon.org website; there are recipes for pickles, slaw, and chutney, that call for the rind of the watermelon. Who knew?
We are asked not to post the recipes here on our blog. If you would like the recipe, you will find it on page 230 of Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge, which you can purchase at your local bookstore or find it at your local library. I highly recommend purchasing the book - you won't be disappointed.
Wok Wednesdays is an online cooking group. If you would like information about joining us, click here, or visit us on Facebook. Would love for you to wok along with us!