Recipe: Watermelon “Sushi”

~ This is Day 164 ~

Looking for a quick and easy, last minute passed hors-d’oeuvres? This is it! All you need is a plate for passing because the watermelon acts like its own vessel! This is one of my favorite canapés to do!

I always like to have reduced sherry vinegar on hand at home because I use it to season a lot of random things. I buy a 16-year aged Pedro Ximénez sweet sherry vinegar from Despaña and reduce it with herbs and spices until it becomes syrupy. You should err on the conservative side when reducing because the reduced vinegar is going to be served either cold or room temperature so you don’t want to over-reduce it in the pot. Of course, you can always add water to thin it out and bring it back to a boil.

Obviously, you’re not going to use all the watermelon. The best part is the center where it is most dense and less airy due to where the seeds usually are.

I like using kanpachi because it is less fatty than regular hamachi. Some fish suggestions:

  • Dover sole
  • Fluke / hirame
  • Yellowtail / hamachi (lean)
    • Hawaiian Amberjack / kanpachi (pictured)
  • Red snapper / red seabream / madai
  • Salmon (lean) / sake **use as last resort, if you cannot find any white fish

Not in Manhattan? Some Amazon links to some sherry vinegars:

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. If you click on one and buy something, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. All opinions are my own.

Makes around 36 servings/pieces.

  • 1 whole seedless watermelon
  • 10 oz. kanpachi, sashimi grade
  • 1 pint curing salt
    • equal parts kosher salt and granulated sugar
  • 2 limes
  • Reduced sherry vinegar

Cut the watermelon into rectangular blocks and set aside. In a shallow container, pour the curing salt to cover the bottom of the container. Place the fish fillets on top and then bury completely with the rest of the curing salt. Place uncovered in the refrigerator for 45 minutes.

Once the 45 minutes is up, rinse the fillets under cold water and wrap in a damp paper towel and put into an air-tight container, back into the refrigerator.

When ready to serve, cut watermelon into thin rectangles and place on a plate. Using a slicer or very sharp and long knife, slice fish into thin cuts. Place 1-2 pieces of sliced fish onto each watermelon piece. Drizzle sherry reduction and microplane fresh lime zest over the top.

This is always a big crowd pleaser and is perfect for summer!

Watermelon “Sushi”

This past Labor Day weekend, I hosted my second rooftop party. It was very much delayed from the previous rooftop party because the first one was back in 2014!! I should have multiple rooftop parties throughout each summer! There was a total of 14 people, which honestly was more than I had planned for but I don’t regret it because it turned out to be such a blast!

I made four different canapés and I just love, love, love the watermelon “sushi” that I came up with when I used to work at Degustation. It was one of my favorite amuse bouche that I put on the tasting menu – here and here.

I had fish troubles for this one because the fluke that I had bought at the fish market turned bad two days later, which meant that I couldn’t use it, even after I cured it, it was still bad… So I had to rush to my favorite trustworthy Japanese supermarket the day of, which killed one hour of my prep time! I’ve always used some kind of flat fish like sole or fluke but Katagiri didn’t have sashimi grade flat fish so I bought some salmon and yellowtail.

It’s best to use cold, refrigerated watermelon. Cut the watermelon into bite-sized rectangles. To cure the fish, cover the fish in equal parts of salt and sugar and place in refrigerator for 45 minutes. The fish pieces that I had were no more than 5 mm thick.

I always like to have my reduced sherry vinegar on hand at home because I use it to season a lot of random things. I buy a 16-year aged Pedro Ximénez sweet sherry vinegar from Despaña and reduce it with herbs and spices until it becomes syrupy. Once you’re done assembling the watermelon and sliced cuts of fish, drizzle some sherry reduction and grate some fresh lime zest over the top. This is always a big crowd pleaser and is perfect for summer!

For the full recipe, click here.