Barbecue season can be a tricky one for plant-based eaters to navigate. With meat-heavy kebabs, burgers and hot dogs dominating the grill, veggie options are often just a side dish, or worse, an afterthought–bring on the bagged salad.
But for those living near a certain famous New York City dining hot spot, one of summer’s most favourite fruits is attempting to steal the spotlight from the beef-filled patties and weenies. Meet the world’s most beautiful smoked (vegan) watermelon:
Yes, it looks like a holiday ham, but we promise it’s actually a big ol’ melon that has been smoked for hours and tastes similar to savoury and salty meat dish. It’s even been carved to look similar to a chunk of pork.
The new smoked watermelon is a culinary creation dreamt up by Ducks Eatery in NYC’s East Village and its executive chef Will Horowitz. Chef Horowitz is quickly becoming known for his boundary-pushing plant-based food, like the well-received cantaloupe burger that launched earlier this year, despite his restaurant mainly serving meat.
Essentially, Chef Horowitz just gives fruit the meat treatment, in this case, doing to a watermelon exactly what he’d do to a smoked ham. First, he removes the rind with a knife, cutting the watermelon into approximately the same shape as a ham. Then, it’s brined in a mixture of coriander, oregano, salt and the ‘secret’ ingredient that gives it its smoky flavour, oakwood ash. Next, it’s dried and smoked for half a day. When it comes out of the smoker, it should have a dry, skin-like texture (thanks to the ash). Finally, it’s scored and basted in its own juices along with some olive oil and rosemary.
“We simply do the same thing we’ve been doing for thousands of years to meats – but we do it to a melon,” Horowitz said in an interview.
One blogger who tried it mentioned that their brain automatically processed it as meat and so biting into a savory watermelon confuses the heck out of them. Although they went on to admit that it was delicious, nonetheless.
An entire smoked watermelon feeds about three to five people, and costs close to $100. It’s definitely pricey for a piece of fruit for sure, especially one that’s made almost entirely from water. But, it’s been given quite the treatment and, we’re not going to lie, it looks ridiculously delicious.
Not feeling the watermelon ham? Try this watermelon keg instead!