The flavors and textures of the whole watermelon served as inspiration for the winner of the Produce Marketing Association’s (PMA) Sensory Experience Contest. Jose Manuel Martinez, senior executive chef at the University of California-Berkeley, worked with the National Watermelon Promotion Board to create a refreshing escabeche. In his multipart recipe, Martinez uses fresh citrus and watermelon juice to “cook” plump bay scallops, creating a ceviche. He then layers the scallop ceviche with diced fresh watermelon and watermelon rind curtido (a spin on cabbage curtido, a Salvadoran slaw). The scallops “cook” in citrus and watermelon juices, and the finished plate is topped with rosewater-infused foam and micro cilantro.
YIELD: 5 servings
For watermelon rind curtido:
1 ½ cups watermelon rind, finely diced
1 ½ cups red bell pepper, finely diced
½ cup diced white onion, finely diced
¼ cup fresno chili pepper, finely diced
1 cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup white granulated sugar
1 tbs. salt
1 ½ tsp. mustard seed
¼ tsp. celery seed
1 tsp. dill
½ tsp. turmeric
½ tsp. red chili flakes
For rosewater-infused foam:
½ cup watermelon juice
½ cup simple syrup
1 tsp. rosewater
1 tsp. sucrose ester
For scallop ceviche:
10 bay scallops, 10-12 ct.
3 tbs. fresh lime juice
3 tbs. fresh grapefruit juice
3 tbs. fresh lemon juice
3 tbs. fresh watermelon juice
⅛ tsp. salt
⅛ tsp. ground black pepper
1 ½ cups fresh watermelon, ¼” dice
1 ½ cups watermelon rind curtido (recipe follows)
1 oz. micro cilantro
20 scallops ceviche (recipe follows)
1 cup rosewater infused foam
1. For watermelon rind curtido: Slice off few pieces of watermelon and cut out inside and peel off outer green skin with vegetable peeler, leaving rind. Combine rind along with diced peppers and onion in bowl. Add salt and stir together; let rest 2 hours. Salt will draw out moisture. Pour off all water and squeeze out as much as possible. In pot, add vinegar, sugar and all spices. Bring to boil and add vegetables. Bring back to boil and simmer 10-12 minutes. Remove from heat and cool down completely. Place curtido in Mason jar, cover and let flavors combine at least 1 day. Flavors will develop more if kept for 1 week in refrigerator. Keeps about 1 month in refrigerator.
2. For rosewater-infused foam: Blend all foam ingredients using immersion blender with whisk attachment or eggbeater. Mixture should be foamy.
3. For scallop ceviche: Remove side muscles of scallops and slice in half. In non-reactive container, mix all ceviche ingredients and let scallops marinate in liquid for 3-5 hours only. Drain scallops and refrigerate until needed.
4. To plate: Mix fresh watermelon, curtido and micro cilantro together. Toss gently to mix into escabeche. Divide escabeche into 5 equal portions. Place 4 scallops on bottom of each plate. Top scallops with escabeche. Place chive vertically in between scallops, 4 chives on each plate. Place rosewater-infused foam on top of each plate.
Recipe: Jose Manuel Martinez. Photo: National Watermelon Promotion Board.