015: Melon


Melooooon!! I kind of wasted my summer, melon-wise. I feel like this meal was one of the only times I ate cantaloupe, watermelon, or honeydew this year, not to mention all the heirloom melons I’ve been missing out on. It could be that I’m just regretting not eating them more often, though. Cantaloupe is a food my mom ate a lot while she was pregnant with me, but I’m not too crazy about it. And honeydew is even more iffy; I’ve described it before as “the worst melon.”
On the grocery run, I picked up halves/wedges of melon. Honeydew, cantaloupe, watermelon, plus hami and Tuscan. Tuscan is essentially cantaloupe, but more likely to be tasty. Hami melon is crisp, a little dry, and tastes kind of like a cross between cantaloupe and honeydew, with less of that spicy muskmelon mouth film.

Menu (Serves 6)
Cantaloupe Curry Soup with Melon Skewer
Salmon-Melon Ceviche with Homemade Pita Chips
Watermelon Fried Rice
Honeydew-Hami Melon Ice Cream

Before you start cooking, use a melon baller to scoop 12 balls each from the honeydew, watermelon, and cantaloupe. Separate the balls into three bowls. Sprinkle the watermelon with salt and chili powder, Squeeze lime juice over the cantaloupe, and roll the honeydew balls in granulated sugar. Put the melon balls in the fridge and let the flavors sink in. 

Honeydew-Hami Melon Ice Cream (adapted from here)

-2c honeydew
-2c heavy cream
-2t lemon juice
-1/2c sugar
-1/4c honey
-1/4c cubed hami melon
-1/2t vanilla


You should have enough honeydew to take 12 scoops, get the 2 cups, and still have a little left over. Throw all the ingredients except the cream and hami melon into a blender, and puree. When it’s as smooth as it’s gonna get, add the cream, and blend briefly to combine.
This recipe doesn’t ask you to chill the mixture before churning it, but I did it anyway just to be safe. A few hours later, Pour the cream mixture into your ice cream machine. Let it run, adding the hami melon cubes when the cream starts getting real thick. Chill for a few hours. I had some trouble getting it firm in time, but I just stirred up the ice cream a couple times to get the fluid to the top and it turned out fine.

If you look closely, you can see a chunk of hami melon buried in the ice cream, there.

Salmon-Melon Ceviche with Homemade Pita Chips
-3 pita rounds
-1 clove garlic
-1 pound salmon, sushi-grade if possible
-1 avocado
-2 shallots
-1/4c jalapeno
-1/4c lime juice (about 3 limes)
-1/2 cup hami melon
-1/2 cup honeydew (or however much you have left over)
-1/2 cup watermelon
-6T olive oil
-salt
-pepper
-olive oil for brushing pitas

Cut the salmon into half-inch-thick strips, then lay the strips flat and cut them into half-inch-square sticks, then into cubes. You don’t have to be too precise, just try for a fairly uniform size.
Cut the melon out of the shell, and cube them to a similar size. Peel the avocado, and cube that as well. Cut the jalapeno apart so you can remove the seeds, then mince. Mince the shallot.
In a large bowl, mix the fish, melon, avocado, jalapeno, shallot, lime juice, and olive oil, with salt and pepper to taste. Cover with plastic wrap, and put it in the fridge for at least a few hours.

Preheat the oven to 375. Cut the pitas into eight triangles each, for 24 chips. Mince the garlic, and mix it with a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a little dish. Lay the chips out on a baking sheet, and brush both sides with the garlic oil. Salt lightly. Put the chips in for 10-15 minutes. Watch the color — The chips are great crunchy, but they’re better just a little chewy, which is in kind of a sweet spot. Keep an eye on them. These should stay crunchy for a while after they’re cooked, but nothing else on the menu needs baking, so you may as well make them fresh right before dinner.
Serve a big scoop of ceviche on a small plate, with 4 pita chips.

These chips are a little overdone, by the way. Pure crunch.

Cantaloupe Curry Soup with Melon Skewer
-The remaining hami, tuscan, and cantaloupe
-1 onion
-1 large rib celery
-1 large carrot
-2 cloves garlic
-1 lime
-fresh thyme
-salt
-vegetable oil
-cumin
-curry powder
-prepared melon balls

Cut up the onion, celery, and carrot to make a mirepoix. Saute it in a heavy pot until softened. Mince the garlic, and add. Roughly chop the melon, and add it. Juice the lime into the pot. Bring it to a boil, then down to a simmer for 20 minutes. When everything’s soft, pour it into a blender, or use an immersion blender to puree it. Taste the soup. Adjust the consistency with water, vegetable or chicken broth, or apple juice, depending on how you want the flavor. Season with salt, pepper, cumin, and curry powder. Strip the thyme leaves off the stems and sprinkle on top.

Skewer the melon balls, two of each type on a skewer. Set up a grill or grill pan, and when it’s ready, sear the melon. At least get the melon warmed up. I used a real grill, and it didn’t really put any color on the fruit, but it added to it to be not-cold.

Ladle the soup out, and serve with a skewer. I had a very small amount, so I used little coffee cups.

Watermelon Fried Rice
-2 cups firm, leftover rice
-1/2 white onion
-2 cloves garlic
-1 inch ginger
-1 carrot
-1 cup watermelon and rind
-1-2T soy sauce
-1/4 cup frozen peas
-2 eggs
-4 scallions
-oil

Make sure you use well-made leftover rice, not mushy, not fresh. Being in the fridge will dry out the rice grains and make them the right consistency for fried rice.
Mince the ginger and garlic, dice the carrot and onion. Cut the watermelon from the rind, leaving some pink. Cut the meat of the fruit into bite-sized pieces, about the size you’d want chicken in fried rice. Then, cut the white from the rind, and dice. Prepare the frozen peas. Just throwing them in will leave them kind of mealy and gross, so boil them in water for a couple minutes.

In a large pan or wok, heat about a tablespoon of oil. When it’s hot, add the onion and carrot. In a smaller pan, heat a smaller amount of oil. Throw in the diced rind, and cook until it’s a little browned. Add the meat, and a splash of soy sauce. Toss the fruit to coat, and cook the liquid off. Keep tossing so it doesn’t scorch. Both batches of stuff should be done around the same time. Turn off the watermelon.
Add the garlic and peas to the large pan. Break up the cold rice with a spatula and spoon it into the pan. Toss everything together, and add soy sauce, a little at a time, tossing everything to get a good color. Add the watermelon. I ended up with more than I thought would be a good ratio, so I saved it to garnish the rice later. Scramble the two eggs, and fold them into the rice. Chop the scallions, and do the same.

Report

Love it! Almost everything came out great. Almost everything was an experiment. A couple really well-plated dishes, and good flavor on absolutely everything.
The soup was wonderful. Excellent flavor, it tasted a bit like a squash soup, but with a cantaloupe tinge when you looked for it. I liked the skewer a lot. Chili and salt is a great combination with watermelon, and the other two seemed to benefit from my guesswork with what to marinate them in. The grilling didn’t add much, as I said. I wanted some sear on the fruit, but it just got warmed. I had hoped the sugar on the honeydew would caramelize on the grill, or even deeper into fantasy, I hoped it would form a crunchy glaze, but it was good how it was.
Speaking of which, all the fruit I got ended up being really, really good. The honeydew, the worst melon, was super nice. I’d never had hami melon, which I enjoyed a lot, the honeydew was totally acceptable, as was the watermelon. Tuscan melon, which I fell in love with a couple years ago, and have only had twice since, fell between the tender perfection of the first time and the kind of hard and lame one I got afterward. Which is to say it was half-way to perfect. That’s pretty good! Their color also added a huge amount to the food. Every dish looked pretty, even if it lacked in plating.
The ceviche was aaaooouuugh good. It was so delicious. If you make one thing from this menu, make the ceviche. It’s super easy, and worth however much you spend on ingredients. I’m sure it’d be great with run-of-the-mill salmon, too. Just make it. Pita chips were dangerously easy. I ate three and a half pitas’ worth of chips on my own. Two test runs, my portion for dinner, and a final batch because I forgot to photograph the ceviche plating. Could not stop eating the chips or the ceviche. If I’d made enough chips for all of it, I probably would have eaten all of the leftovers in one sitting.

My nail has been black for pretty much a full month now, after closing it in a car door.
I didn’t have any leftover rice, so I tried to make some early in the day, and it turned out really mushy. I think I used too much water. So then, I made another, smaller pot (which was just the right amount), and refrigerated the rice, but it was still a little soft, and not refrigerated long enough to really dry it. So, the fried rice came out badly. It tasted good, and I was super pleased with the stir-fried watermelon, but the texture was really wrong, almost like a pilaf. I should have known better and made the rice properly a day or two ahead of time.
The ice cream was tangy and luscious. Perfect flavor. I used that farmer’s market honey. I really have no idea if honeys taste different when you cook with them, but it made me feel fancy, I guess. There were a couple dissatisfactions I had with the ice cream. It’s a bit too icy. It crumbles. The hami melon turned into basically just ice. I can count one time I really got flavor out of it. I wish I knew how it is that ice cream makers (the people who make it) get fruit to stay kind of soft and flavorful, cause I think that pairing would work really nicely. But, it’s seriously so good. Even with an imperfect texture, it’s my favorite ice dessert that I’ve made. The honeydew is distilled down to that nice subtle flavor, with none of the downsides.
This was a great menu. With proper rice prep, I would have been completely satisfied with how it came out. I feel the ingredient was used to its fullest, in creative and delicious dishes that felt genuinely innovative. I’m really proud of this one. It also marked the first blog meal I’ve served to friends, so it’s even cooler that this wasn’t a disaster and was actually awesome.

Next Week: Basil

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2 Comments

  1. Anonymous

     /  September 10, 2012

    Ceviche-che-che! Fabulous! Also liked the honeydew ice cream, which I thought needed candied ginger.

    Reply
  2. Anonymous

     /  September 19, 2012

    When I saw the pictures of the ceviche, my mouth started watering a little. Evan agrees.

    Reply

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