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!

Quail with Autumn Mushrooms

I was going to put more egg (a quail egg) in this holiday menu but as I was writing the prep list, I realized that it’s too much and that the quail egg isn’t completely necessary.

I wasn’t set on one mushroom for this dish. I was open to all that was available! That meant going to the farmer’s market. I also thought I had two weekends before Thanksgiving to prep but after looking at the calendar, I only had one! Food shopping in NYC is difficult because I am only one person with two hands and two shoulders. And bags get heavy quick. The farmer’s market at Union Square is open every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. The best days, in my opinion, are Wednesdays and Fridays.

I didn’t want to risk it so I bought my mushrooms at the biggest Whole Foods Market, the one on Houston/Bowery. Their mushrooms were pretty good, I was there picking through all the nice chanterelles and all the nice king trumpets to put in my bag. And being a Prime member has its benefits!!! I wanted black trumpets too but they didn’t have any. I bought baby Bellas (aka small portobello aka baby cremini) for the purée. And good thing I went to Whole Foods because the market had almost nothing/really shitty mushrooms.

Here you have Quail that was brined then seared, cooked to medium, with a Cremini Purée, roasted Chanterelles and King Trumpets, garnished with its Jus, a Montegrato Pedro Ximénez Reduction, and Crispy Rosemary.

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.

Plans for Friendsgiving 2019

I’m very early this year for my Friendsgiving menu plans! Inspiration started and I decided to just go with it. I’ve been usually doing dinner for four for the past couple of years because that means less glassware to clean but I want to do six people total this year… Here is what I have so far; I expect menu changes…

Egg on Egg on Egg
Sea Urchin • Soft Scramble • Trout Roe
Potato Foam • Pumpernickel Soil
(1st course)

Quail with Autumn Mushrooms
Chanterelles • King Trumpet • Cremini Purée
Rosemary • Montegrato Pedro Ximénez
(2nd course)

5 Spiced Duck Leg Cappellacci
Celery • Brown Butter • Cured Egg Yolk • Fennel
(3rd course)

Dry Aged Duck Breast
Homemade Hoisin • Pickled Cucumber • Chive Oil
(4th course)

Pear Tart
Ginger Snap • Ginger Ice Cream
(5th course)

Kabocha Squash & Stracciatella

I will always love burrata but for me, burrata is “over”… For the past several years, I have been all about stracciatella. Stracciatella cheese is best known to be the gooey center of burrata!!! Stracciatella means “rag,” from the Italian word “strattore” (to stretch), and describes the action to make the cheese as well as how it looks.

That same day where I had seven of the same scallop crudo, I also had roasted squash with burrata cheese. It also hit me surprisingly. But in my version, I substituted burrata for stracciatella and garnished it with toasted pumpkin seeds, reduced Pedro Ximénez vinegar, and chives.

Plans for Friendsgiving 2018

I’m super late this year for my Friendsgiving menu. I hope this doesn’t become my new habit because the anxiety doesn’t help.

But here is what I have planned so far. Most of the courses are inspirations or almost near exact replicas from NYC restaurants (i.e. the first three courses). Please forgive me for any originality, it’s been a tiring and stressful year.

Scallop Crudo
Lemon Zest • Brown Butter • Chives
(1st course)

Roasted Kabocha Squash
Stracciatella • Pedro Ximénez • Pepitas
(2nd course)

Duck Leg Confit
Red Mole • Blue Corn Tacos
(3rd course)

Maple Lacquered Duck Breast
Apple Purée • Candied Pecans
(4th course)

Fudge Brownies
Chocolate Sculptures • Vanilla Ice Cream
(5th course)