Watermelon is the fruit of the summer. This versatile sweet fruit doesn’t have to be simply a dessert though. Gaiya’s Harvest Chef Petrina shares her grilled watermelon poke dish with us and we’re excited to give it a try! We first met Petrina on our Vegans, Baby Vegan Food Tour in June and have loved following her journey in town and seeing her vegan dishes she shares on her Instagram and Facebook.
Chef Petrina has been treating Las Vegas to her culinary skills for more than give years, working at restaurants such as Andiron and Americana. Chef Petrina, seeing the need for vegan fine dining food in Vegas, created Gaiya’s Harvest, a pop-up dinner and small events catering concept that also offers cooking lessons. Gaiya’s Harvest specializes in creating unique experiences by reimagining what vegan food can be.
“Once I became a vegan I knew I was on the right path. My entire life changed, and my families as well. I wanted to spread the word about veganism any way I could, and I wanted to teach people that what they eat can change their lives,” she says.
And now, go and make her Grilled Watermelon Poke!
1 seedless baby watermelon
1 medium onion
2 scallion stems (green onion)
1 tsp minced garlic
4 tbsp sesame oil
1/2 cup soy sauce, tamari or liquid aminos
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp Togorashi (Japanese spice mix)
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
2 tbsp sesame seeds (white or black)
1 toasted nori sheet (seaweed)
3 sprigs cilantro
salt and pepper to taste
1. Clean and remove watermelon from it’s rind. Cut into large enough slices to place on the grill. Peel and cut the onion in half.
2. In a small bowl, mix together the togorashi, chili flakes and sesame seeds. Then, using your hands, crush the nori (seaweed) sheet into small pieces and add to the togorashi mix.
3 Whisk together the sesame oil, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and ½ of the lemon (juice) to create a liquid marinade.
4. In a sealable container, liberally season the watermelon with the togorashi mix and half of the liquid marinade. Shake to distribute evenly, let sit 30 minutes. Set aside the remaining marinade.
5. Heat the grill, then add watermelon. Grill until grill marks appear on each side of the watermelon slices (roughly 5 minutes per side). Grill the onion. Remove from grill and let cool.
6. Once cool enough to handle, cut the watermelon slices into medium diced cubes, or traditional poke size. Using a strainer, press out excess water from watermelon (it will be a lot of water).
7. Return your watermelon to a resealable container. Small dice the grilled onion and add it to the watermelon. Add the remaining liquid marinade, minced garlic and sprinkle with the togorashi mix and salt and pepper. Let sit refrigerated.
8. Clean and cut avocado into small dices and place in a bowl. Finely chop cilantro and add to the avocado. Squeeze in the other half of the lemon and finish with salt and pepper.
9. When ready to serve, strain off any excess liquid marinade that you don’t want present in the watermelon poke (there maybe a lot of water).
10. Thinly slice scallions and add to the watermelon poke. Serve poke with avocado mix and topped with scallions and togarashi mix. Taste and adjust with salt and pepper if needed
*Try serving with fried rice paper (Banh Trang) or fried rice noodle.*
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Diana Edelman is the founder of Vegans, Baby. She previously lived and worked in Thailand working for an elephant sanctuary and has traveled around the world speaking about the realities of elephant tourism, being a positive activist and entrepreneur at events including TBEX, SEED Food + Wine, VegFest Puerto Rico, VegFest Toronto and more. Diana is a proud partner with the James Beard Foundation and curates their Vegas Vegan Dinner series at the famous James Beard House, as well as the vegan activation, The Farm Stand, at Las Vegas’ Life Is Beautiful festival.