Pickled Watermelon Rind & Beets

A week or so ago I bought myself a HUGE watermelon from WFM and thought to myself, “how can I use the rind to this melon”.

Watermelons are in the same family as cucumbers and zucchini, so I tried to think of cooking techniques for those.

Dehydrating first came to mind then of course breading/frying followed, because anything fried can be tasty.

Finally pickles came to mind!

I’ve never pickled or fermented anything and the idea not only fascinated me but also was terrifying.

I decided to peruse the net for basic pickling recipes to guide me in the right direction.

During my search I stumbled across a recipe for pickled watermelon rind! Oh, lucky days!

The recipe was adapted by Kitchen Riffs from a David Chang recipe.

As mentioned before I do not like using refined white sugar but it was important for me to follow the recipe somewhat closely for the first attempt. So, I reduced the sugar quantity from the original.

I pickled the rinds Monday night after waiting the recommended four days, I popped off the lids and gave them a try.

Ok, I do admit that eating pickled rind from a watermelon may not sound scrumptious, and well, I cannot say it was my favorite. These freshly packed sour warheads have an intense “POW, IN YOUR FACE” flavor.

Kitchen Riff recommended using ACV instead of Chang’s rice wine vinegar, so I went along with the ACV. The ACV has a sweet element and enhances the intense flavors to an overwhelming degree.

The thing about watermelon rind is that it doesn’t have much flavor and are bitter—absorbing whatever sauce used. Less sugar and the strong, sweet flavor of ACV took over the rinds, resulting in unbalance between sweet and sour/tangy, with sour/tangy dominating the profile.

Cinnamon sticks and fresh ginger were also added to my brind which adds a layer of heat to the pickles.

There is a real sweet, tangy, sour explosion of flavors that are not for the average soul.

There was also that expected crunch from the hard rind which you’ll find from a well pickled vegetable. The crunch adds another degree of complexity to this already stimulating flavors.

This would be great with some ice cold lemonade on a hot summer day or garnish for a fun, fruity cocktail.

I’ve generated two jars and am seeking creative ways to eat these tangy morsels because summer is on it’s way out and seldom drink, but once in a while I do enjoy a classic gimlet with gin. I’ll post updates about tasty finds for pickled watermelon rind.

I ended up using some extra dressing to pickle a golden beet that wasn’t looking too good. I honestly loved the pickled beet.

The ACV wasn’t as overwhelming and still had a strong beet flavor and a slight crunch to them.

These would be great with hummus and roasted corn or in a nice green salad with some toasted walnuts. YUM!

Have you tried pickling? Do you have a favorite recipe or tricks? Let me know!

Tampopo

An ode to ramen in the form of a spaghetti western?  A ramen western…  Heck yeah!

This clever film, set in 1985 Japan, tells the story of a widowed woman, Tampopo, struggling with her newfound responsibility of operating the family ramen stand alone.

One day, Tampopo fell victim to a gang of ruthless men who mocked her bowl of ramen.  To Tampopo’s surprise, she was actually the fortunate one that day, for a pair of drifting truck drivers Goro and his trusty sidekick, Gun save the day!

As Goro and Gun prepare to leave, Tampopo runs to their truck and begs for help to improve her ramen.

The movie goes into the culture of ramen for ramen is more than just a dish of food, but a piece of art that must be thought about thoroughly in detail and mastered.

Remember to slurp those noodles!

Slurping ramen noodles is key, for it not only cools down the ramen but also aerates the broth, which helps fully develop the flavors for a more palatable experience. 

There are vignettes throughout the movie that are strange and comical.  One focuses on a group of pretentious businessmen who get upstaged by a lowly employee’s culinary expertise.

FOOD FETISH ALERT!!

A primary subplot involves a gangster and his lover that use food as an aphrodisiac.

The first scene lays the lover on a bed with an overturned bowl resting on her stomach.  Inside, live shrimp thrash around in a puddle of soy sauce against her naked skin.  I wonder what that feels like?  😕

Throughout the movie Goro teaches Tampopo the secrets to the perfect ramen, through intense training which included timed meal prep, cutting pork to 3mm (no – more is not better!), running (a classic in any apprentice training motif) and spying on other ramen stands, to name a few.

This movie is for chefs, wannabe chefs, those who love ramen or adventurous spirits that enjoy silly Japanese movies with great cinematography.

I suggest finding a good ramen stand in your local area so you can enjoy the umami taste of delicious noodles and broth to curb your craving because you will NEED ramen after watching this movie.

If you are in the Chicago Suburbs, I recommend Kitakata in Hoffman Estates.  They provide great customer service, serve hot ramen, and also have a vegetarian ramen (yay!).  I have one request though, please refuse any straws!  🙂

Kitakuna Ramen.JPG

Hurry and go watch Tampopo!

Warning:  Since the movie involves cooking, there are a few graphic scenes of butchered animals… Be prepared…