Pickled Watermelon Rind

I have many fond memories from my childhood in Shanghai in the 1970s.  Like many households at that time, my family did not own a refrigerator. The healthy consequence of this is that my parents would visit the local market every morning. Their ritual was to wake up at 5:00 and be back home by 6:30 with seasonal fare grown by farmers who lived beyond the city bounds.

During the summer, my father would somehow manage to bundle a half dozen watermelons on the back of his bicycle at least once a week.  He’d bring them home and store them underneath the bed, as it was one of the coolest spaces in the house.  The summers in Shanghai are so hot and humid that we’d easily eat a watermelon a day.  After enjoying the cooling flesh, we’d transform the rind into these delicious pickles.  According to Chinese medicine, watermelon rind is a healthy diuretic that helps detoxify and cool the bodily systems.  These healthy pickles can be enjoyed as a crisp, savory snack or alongside a meal.  For the most flavor and health benefits, use local seasonal melon.

Ingredients

  • 1 Watermelon
  • 2-3 tablespoons of Fine Sea Salt
  • 1 teaspoon of Szechuan or Black Peppercorns
  • 1-2 inch piece of Fresh Ginger, peeled and sliced (use more for extra kick)

Instructions

  1. Wash the watermelon and then cut into half moon slices.
  2. Slice off the fruit completely.   I like to put it aside for a refreshing snack.
  3. Next, peel of the rind’s skin with a knife or good quality vegetable peeler.
  4. Use a parring knife to slice the green rind into thin 2″ to 3″ long pieces.
  5. Place in a bowl and rub with salt.  Mix in the sliced ginger and peppercorn.  Cover and let sit for 3-6 hours.
  6. Then, move the rind, ginger, and peppercorn into a strainer and rinse off the salt.
  7. Transfer into a jar or airtight storage container.  Add a drop of sesame oil and refrigerate. You can also dress it up with a dash of rice wine vinegar or spicy oil.

 

 

By Wei Huang Bertram

Photo by Sophie Slater