Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Watermelon Peel Recipes

There's still watermelon at your local supermarket, right? Good. Because you have to try cooking some watermelon peel. I'm not talking about the entire rind; I'm talking about the good white stuff between the red flesh and the green shell. It sounds kind of strange, but I promise it's quite delicious and it makes a great substitute for any Chinese "melon" such as cucumber, hairy gourd, or winter melon. 

Here is a recipe that I use all the time at home when I'm lacking inspiration or if I just want some familiar flavors. It's a stir fry with spare ribs, dried shiitake mushrooms, vermicelli, and watermelon peel. This recipe is very adaptable and usually instead of watermelon peel, I use napa cabbage, hairy gourd, or silky gourd. 

Watermelon Peel Spare Rib Stir Fry
1lb spare rib, marinated* and chopped into 1in pieces
3-4 cups prepared watermelon peel**
1 pack vermicelli, soaked
1 cup shiitake mushrooms, soaked and sliced
6 cloves garlic
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tbs canola oil

*Spare rib marinade (prepare 30min-1hr prior to cooking)
3 tbs soy sauce
3 tbs rice cooking wine
2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp black pepper

1. Heat canola oil and garlic until garlic browns
2. Add spare ribs and stir fry in high heat until no more red shows
3. Add the mushrooms
4. After meat is more thoroughly cooked, add the chicken broth and cover with a lid. Braise on low-medium heat for ten minutes or until meat is completely cooked
5. Add the watermelon peel and vermicelli. Stir fry until vermicelli is clear (~1-2min)

**How to prepare watermelon peel for eating and cooking
After slicing off the flesh and the exterior peel, boil in water until slightly tender. It should still have a noticeable crunch to it. This boiling process removes the watermelon flavor we all know and love, but would taste off in a savory soy sauce situation. It also helps remove excess water stored in the peel that would otherwise all come out while cooking in high heat.

Another great way to use watermelon peel is in a cold dish typically prepared with cucumber. But instead of just boiling the watermelon in plain water during the preparation phase, add a teaspoon or two of salt (depending on how much water you use).
Watermelon Peel Cold Dish
2 cups prepared watermelon peel**
2 tbs light soy sauce
1 tbs Sichuan chili oil
1 tbs garlic, minced
1/2 tsp black vinegar
1/4 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp sesame seeds

1. Mix soy sauce, chili oil, garlic, black vinegar, and brown sugar
2. Pour over watermelon peel
3. Sprinkle sesame seeds
4. Thoroughly impress your guests

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