Robin Anish | The Table Is Set: Abracadabra - turning watermelon into tuna

PHOTO PROVIDED BY ROBIN ANISHWatermelon poke replaces the traditional tuna with watermelon.

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I recently received the following text from my daughter:

"I saw this vegan chef make Tuna poke with watermelon in place of tuna. So, I had to try it for myself. After two days of cooking, marinating and patiently waiting; the consistency and flavor completely changed and tasted as close to tuna as you could possibly get."

A gorgeous photo of her end product followed the text. I was intrigued and impressed; intrigued because I don't like raw fish and impressed because my daughter prepared such a beautiful dish.

Poke, pronounced "poh-kay," is a raw fish dish from Hawaii and a great example of the multi-cultural influences on Hawaiian cuisine. Served cold, it's fresh, flavorful, and healthy. While poke has been showing up on trendy American menu's outside of Hawaii in recent years, it has been a staple in Hawaii's food culture for generations.

So, how does watermelon translate into poke? Very well I have to say. My daughter claimed the consistency and flavor of the watermelon morphed into something that resembled tuna. How does that happen?!

The salty soy sauce and the acid of the vinegar and lime juice used in the recipe and the long marinating time draws out excess liquid from the watermelon pieces, which condenseS and gives a compact texture to the fruit similar to that of the texture the fish. The flavorful marinade and sauce easily allows the watermelon to mimic the raw fish in poke.

Watermelons are so sweet and delicious in the summer that now is the time to try this recipe and experience a bit of Hawaii right here in the Berkshires and Southern Vermont!

Watermelon poke


4 to 5 cups seedless watermelon cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 cup unseasoned rice vinegar

1/4 cup toasted sesame oil

3 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons tahini

1 tablespoon honey 1 teaspoon fresh minced ginger

1 tablespoon Sriracha or chili paste (optional)


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Place watermelon in a resealable plastic bag. Blend vinegar, sesame oil, soy, lime juice, tahini, honey, ginger and optional Sriracha or chili paste. Pour over watermelon, seal bag and chill at least 24 hours or up to two days.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Drain watermelom; reserve marinade. Cook watermelon tossing frequently until it begins to caramelize slightly and dry out a bit. Be careful not to let it burn. Alternatively, roast watermelon on sheet pans in a 375 degree oven

until slightly carmelized. Chill.

Meanwhile, bring marinade to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer until thickened into a sauce, about ten minutes. Chill.Toss watermelon with sauce and serve or build a poke bowl with any of the following toppings:

Sushi rice


Slivers of carrots,

Thinly sliced radishes, scallions, sweet onions, cucumbers

Nori seaweed

Sesame seeds

Crushed macadamia or peanuts nuts


Hot chilies or jalape o peppers, sliced


Lime wedges

Cilantro leaves

Fried won ton strips


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