Spicy Watermelon Salad

Watermelon salad close 600x450 Spicy Watermelon Salad

Most things I cook and recipes I create are either inspired by something I’ve seen or tasted, with my own take on it, or reverse engineered from something I’ve eaten at a restaurant. Lately, I’ve had a watermelon salad stuck in my head that I had once, years ago. So long ago that I couldn’t remember what was in it.

TopChef 021 150x150 Spicy Watermelon Salad

Chefs Blais and Fraser and me.

Back when I was just starting to get as interested in cooking as I was in eating, I was able to go to a cooking demonstration by one of my favorite Top Chefs, Richard Blais. Back then, I had a strict separatist attitude between savory and sweet. I didn’t really like them on the same plate, let alone in the same dish. One of the things Chef Blais made was a watermelon salad with jalapeños. This was pretty close to the savory/sweet line for me but I decided to try it because Blais made it. It was really good. So good that it was a turning point in my thought process about my separatist policies.

I hadn’t really thought about it until I recently came across a picture of me with Chef Blais. Watermelons are starting to show up in grocery stores (at least they are in LA) so I decided to try to recreate what Chef Blais made. Only it’s been years and all I remember was it had watermelon and was spicy. Were there other ingredients from the savory world that gave me pause back then? Was there a salt component?

Watermelon Salad overhead 600x472 Spicy Watermelon Salad

That’s when I remembered I shot some video of the demo and started going through old hard drives to try and find it. After several missed guesses of where it could be, I finally found the videos. I found the one in which he started making the salad and it ended right after he introduced the dish. What was I thinking?

So now, based on my experiences and more refined cooking skills, I have come up with my version. It’s fairly simple. I use Serrano peppers for the heat, sliced thin with a mandolin. Red onions and cilantro add some sweet and savory components while Uzu gives it a bit of acid. I like to let it sit for a while to let the heat from the Serrano peppers soak into everything. But, much like the citrus salad, wait until you’re ready to serve before adding the onions. If stored with the onions, the entire salad takes on the strong onion aroma. It doesn’t hurt the flavor much but the strong smell scent can be off-putting.

It’s a refreshing salad with a kick and great for barbeques or on it’s own. Enjoy.

In addition to my interpretations, you can get Richard Blais' new cookbook, Try This at Home: Recipes from My Head to Your Plate Spicy Watermelon Salad

Ingredients

  • 6 cups watermelon, cubed
  • 1/4 cup red onion, quartered & sliced
  • 1 serrano pepper, seeded & thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tbsp Uzu (or lemon juice)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • Prep time: 20 min
  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy

Directions

Cut watermelon into approximately half-inch cubes. Add cilantro, uzu, coconut oil, pinch of salt and serrano. You can start with a less serrano and add more if you want more heat. Cover and let sit in the refrigerator until you're ready to serve. The longer it sits, the more the heat from the peppers will permeate through the watermelon. Just before it's served, mix in the onions.

Tagged: , ,

  • Elizabeth

    This reminds me of a 'fruit salad' I once made with sauteed onions and jalapenos. It was delicious, and a hit with everyone who ate it, despite initial reactions when hearing the ingredients. For the life of me I've never been able to find that recipe again, but your post here has me inspired to look again - and to give this one a go, too.

    • doncrossland

      I'm surprised at how much I like the spicy bite with the watermelon. Let me know what you think of it. I would wait until you serve to add the onions. The aroma can overpower the dish if the onions permeate the dish. Thanks for reading.