Happy Memorial Day Eve!
Do you get sad when you see watermelon rinds in the trash, or is it just me? It all started with my trip to Aldi..
Yesterday I bought my first ever good whole watermelon at Aldi for$3.99, enabling me to eat sweet, juicy, crunchy and non-mealy watermelon from the comforts of my own home.
Take a trip down memory lane with me, if you will: Summers at our house were marked with lots of sweet watermelon, maybe one or two at a time, rolling around on the kitchen floor. On trips to Costco (in most cases), my dad would hover around the bins of watermelon to pick the perfect one. He would flick his index finger and thumb together to thump the watermelon, and listen intently for whatever sound. He was the watermelon whisperer; I can scarcely remember a time there was bad watermelon in our house!
I can now empathize with people who never inherited or got the chance to learn the culinary secrets and tips from their chefs of parents. I never learned watermelon picking from my dad, and it’s been a sad realization, as I’ve moved away from home and don’t have the luxury of perfect watermelons in the house. I’ve picked several bad watermelons that were not only not sweet, but had mealy insides 🙁 .
So, this watermelon selection was actually mere luck of the draw; I was in the checkout at Aldi and saw watermelons and wanted one for Tim, my husband, and me to enjoy. I thumped the watermelons like I had seen my dad do, but couldn’t distinguish the sounds of a bad watermelon from a good. I also don’t have data on my phone, so I couldn’t just look up “How to pick a watermelon”, either. I asked the lady behind me in line if she knew how to pick a good one, and she said that someone told her to look for the yellow belly, and that it had worked for her thus far. I picked the first one I had tapped, because it had the signature yellow belly.
Thanks for the tip, lady! The tip succeeded once again, as the watermelon was bright red and had a large portion of that sweet “upper” watermelon part that is furthest from the rind. You know what I’m talking about!!
I cut up a bunch of watermelon, but was sad to see the rinds get tossed in the trash. What could I make…..pickles? Apparently, Westerners already have a method: pickled watermelon rind! I was dismayed to see that several recipes call for boiling the watermelon rinds for several minutes. Why not marinate and pickle it like cucumbers in liang ban huang gua? Then, I googled the recipe in Chinese, and realize that I wasn’t the only one with this brilliant idea. Oh well! It’s still good.
As you go off to your Memorial Day barbecues and are looking for a last minute salad or side dish to make, consider pickled watermelon rind! You can bring not only fruit, but a side dish as well! Enjoy.
Pickled Watermelon Rind
liang ban xi gua pi
2 cups watermelon rind (from roughly 1/8 watermelon), thinly sliced and chopped into 1-2 inch pieces
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp sesame oil (optional)
1/2 tsp sugar (optional)
Chili oil (optional)
1) Remove red watermelon meat from a wedge of watermelon (roughly 1/8 a watermelon)
2) Peel the green skin with a fruit/vegetable peeler.
3) Slice the watermelon rind thinly. Combine all ingredients together. Let marinate/pickle in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes (longer is better).
4) Enjoy cold!
-You can use apple cider vinegar as a substitute for rice vinegar.
-I didn’t add sugar to my second batch, and didn’t find that it was missing the sugar, because of the little bit of red watermelon meat that was still attached to the rind.
-The chili oil and sesame oil would make this dish more Chinese; leave them out if you want a more traditional ‘pickle’.