Fish fragrant watermelon

Fish fragrant watermelon

Green Pickled Peaches
Chris Chen

For me, watermelon has the fragrance of the freshest fish. The raw ingredients here are those which the Sichuanese conceive as complementary to fish, but which are generally used in chicken, eggplant or pork dishes. I’m imagining what the chemistry of those flavourings might be like if they were used with raw fish.

For the avocado dressing


Quantity Ingredient
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
80ml grapeseed oil
50g young ginger, minced
65g garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chilli bean paste
50ml dry sherry
1/2 bunch spring onions, thinly sliced
sugar, to taste
1/2 avocado, pureed just before using
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon sea salt
300g striped trumpeter or flame-tail snapper fish fillet s, skin removed
150g ripe watermelon, seeds removed
icing sugar, in a sugar shaker
a little light soy sauce, to season
chilli oil, to serve


  1. Make the avocado dressing:

  2. Soften the butter in a saucepan over medium–high heat. Add the oil and, when hot, stir in the ginger and garlic. Cook gently until soft and with mellow flavours. Season with salt and white pepper. Add the chilli bean paste and fry until fragrant. Add the sherry and cook until the mixture becomes syrupy. Stir in the spring onions but don’t overcook them as this will draw out moisture into the mixture. Season generously with salt, white pepper, and sugar to taste. Leave at room temperature for about 30 minutes to allow to mature. Pass the mixture through a fine sieve (reserving the solids) and fold the oil into the freshly puréed avocado. Add the lemon juice to the avocado dressing. Taste to check that the dressing is well flavoured with ginger and chilli paste and that the richness is cut by the lemon juice.
  3. Prepare the fish:
  4. Gently rub the salt onto the fish fillets. Leave for 30 minutes and then wipe off the excess with a damp paper towel. Don’t rub hard or you will damage the flesh. When ready to assemble the dish, cut the fillets into paperthin slices across the grain of the fish.
  5. Prepare the watermelon:
  6. Cut the watermelon into thick steaks. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and icing sugar. Cook in a hot frying pan for 30 seconds on each side until lightly browned. Dice very finely.
  7. Assemble the dish:
  8. Arrange the slices of fish on individual serving plates. Add the watermelon dice, intermingling them with the fish. Add a little avocado dressing around the plate. Season the reserved solids from the avocado dressing with a little light soy sauce to taste and add to the plate. Drizzle the plate with a little chilli oil.
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