Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

Flavor Find: Compressed Watermelon Modern applications of compressed watermelon featured at two Oakland, Calif., restaurants

Watermelon has made impressive inroads on menus, launching onto the scene in the watermelon-feta salad, but now seeing more creative menu play. On a recent tour hosted by the National Watermelon Promotion Board (NWPB), chefs and media were treated to modern applications, including compressed watermelon, featured at two Oakland, Calif., restaurants. The technique ensures a rich, clean profile and allows for flavor-building enhancements.

At Clove & Hoof, it’s marinated in shio koji and served with black pepper and mint, while at Mua, the Pressed Watermelon is topped with olive oil, pine nuts and crumbled feta.

Vacuum sealing is the go-to method for NWPB consulting chef Dave Woolley, who recommends sections from 3/4-in. to 1-1/2-in. thick. He uses a range of ingredients to infuse added flavor, from smoked onions and/or garlic to charred herbs like thyme and rosemary, or spices like cumin and coriander. Calabrian, Aleppo and Espelette chiles work well, as do honey powder or vinegar powder (powders provide flavor without added moisture).

Woolley cautions against overdoing the additions. “I infuse flavors to highlight and showcase the watermelon, not to overwhelm it,” he says, noting the vast range of flavors that complement watermelon.

From the November-December issue of Flavor & the Menu magazine. Read this issue online or check if you qualify for a free print subscription.


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