Adding smoke to any kind of food makes it better. Meat, of course, but veggies and fruit benefit from the deep flavor of smoking as well. So it’s not surprising that Ducks Eatery, a smokehouse, and bar in New York City, would add smoke to foods you don’t generally see served as “smoked.” The one smoked food they tried recently, though, has turned out to be a stretch for some people.
From your first glance, the dish looks like a ham. It’s crackly and scored and round, and when you slice into it, it’s red and juicy. But the marvel of this tasty looking dish is that it isn’t meat at all; it’s a smoked watermelon.
Chef and restaurateur Will Horowitz brined a whole watermelon and smoked it for eight hours and then posted the results on the restaurant’s Instagram.
The reaction on social media has varied, with some excitement for a great vegan alternative and others a little disturbed by the fake ham look.
Instagramer Jeremy Jacobowitz from Brunch Boys tried the faux-roast smoked watermelon and said that the dish is “an acid trip for your taste buds.”
Food Insider visited the restaurant and posted a video wit Horowitz walking through the process of smoked watermelon. It takes four to six days to prepare and starts with slicing the rind of the watermelon off than letting it sit in a brine mixed with coriander, oregano, salt, and oakwood ash. Once the melon has soaked in the briny goodness for four days, it’s dried and then smoked for half a day.
When the watermelon “ham” is pulled out of the smoker, the outside of the fruit actually looks like the skin on a ham. To give the exterior that caramelized crisp, Horowitz scores the “skin” and bastes the smoked watermelon in olive oil, rosemary, and the watermelon juice. A little flame turns the liquid into the meaty-looking crunch on the exterior.
The taste is unlike ham or fresh watermelon, according to Food Insider. It’s sweet and salty and smoky, and definitely, a must try.
It’s not the first smoked melon Horowitz has added to the Ducks Eatery menu. There’s a smoked cantaloupe burger that takes a square of thick smoked melon and adds caramelized onion, hot ranch, lettuce, and sesame for an amazing-sounding beef alternative.