It’s good to be frugal, but there are times when frugality goes too far and tips over into just plain old stupidity.
This recipe falls just to the right side of OK – pickling a watermelon rind, you know, the green part that gets chucked on the compost pile, sounds ridiculous, and it would be, if the result wasn’t so good.
It’s one of those ‘silk purse out of a sow’s ear’ type of recipes…something unpromising transformed into something worth eating. On top of that, it only takes a couple of minutes to put together, so for the cost of a few hundred millilitres of vinegar and a handful of spices, it’s worth making good use of something that would otherwise just end up in the bin.
First of all, you need watermelon rind, which means you need a watermelon, a big, basketball-sized specimen should do it. Eat the red flesh, but save half of the rind, peel some of the toughest green rind away and chop it up into two centimetre square pieces.
Next, knock together a pickling liquid from about 225ml of rice wine vinegar, 125ml of water, a tablespoon and an extra quarter teaspoon of salt, 100g of sugar, a whole star anise and a thumb-sized piece of peeled fresh ginger (does ginger ever get measured in any unit other than the size of a thumb? I think not).
Bring to the boil and stir to dissolve the sugar and salt before adding the watermelon rind and cooking for one minute, just enough to start to soften the rind a little. The salt and sugar will finish the job off.
Transfer everything to a suitable air tight container, about a litre in volume. A Kilner jar fits the bill.
The pickle is ready after a few hours, and it’ll keep refrigerated for a couple of weeks. After that, the rind will start to get too soft and mushy…over-pickled. This pickle is best when it’s still fresh and the rinds still have some bite to them.
This recipe is from David Chang’s Momofukucookbook. Chang recommends eating this pickle as part of an impromptu frisee aux lardons – frisee, pickled watermelon rind, bacon lardons, a poached egg and a vinaigrette boosted with some of the pickling liquid. Watermelon and bacon? It sounds odd, but remember that you’ve just pickled the skin of a watermelon, so it might be worth a punt.