When it comes to fruits, vegetables, and other foods sourced from the earth, what you see can be far from what you're getting. With some creativity and additional ingredients on hand, plant-based foods can transform into borderline uncanny versions of some animal-based classics. As the demand for vegan-friendly alternatives continues to skyrocket throughout the 21st century, more and more cooks are harnessing the unique properties of plants to develop these innovative alternatives. From jackfruit pulled pork to tofu vegan cheese dip, herbivorous and omnivorous diners alike are reaping the benefits of this ever-growing, outside-the-box mock cuisine category.
Watermelon 'tuna' may be one of the most creative dishes in that category. Countless internet foodies concur that this sweet, summery fruit can turn into a dish that not only visually replicates raw tuna but also mimics the unique flavor and texture of the fishy source material. Who knew that watermelon could answer a sashimi-loving vegan's prayers?
Why Watermelon Works So Well
It may seem that a water-to-wine level miracle would need to occur to transform a sweet, crunchy, crisp watermelon piece into a tender, steak-like strip of tuna. However, the process is actually quite simple given these star ingredients' properties. Of all the common sushi proteins, tuna is one of the mildest. Its non-fishy flavor makes it appealing to even the pickiest raw fish tasters, and the perfect vessel for the umami and spicy flavorings we know and love. This might be why tuna rolls are among the top 10 most popular sushi in the United States as of 2023.
In the same vein, watermelon has a sweet, mild flavor perfect for pairing with contrasting flavors, like a salty soy sauce or spicy wasabi. When cooked, its juiciness stays intact, but its texture goes from crisp to chewy, closely emulating the mouthfeel of a fresh tuna sashimi slice. And, of course, watermelon's signature red hue makes it visually indistinguishable from a typical piece of tuna.
Hopping On The Vegan 'Fish' Bandwagon
Watermelon 'tuna' uses are not limited to sushi, though. Like other sushi-grade proteins, the 'fish' can be chopped into smaller pieces and served in a refreshing, flavorful poke bowl. Sprinkled with yuzu, garnished with chopped scallions and toasted sesame seeds, and you've got vegan 'tuna' carpaccio. You can even throw the pieces into hard shells for watermelon 'fish' tacos. Wherever you can find sushi-grade tuna, you can swap in watermelon for real tuna.
The possibilities for vegan 'fish' also do not stop at watermelon. The food world is bursting with innovative alternative ideas: Carrot 'salmon' and mushroom 'calamari' are two popular plant-based alternatives to fish.
Of course, these doppelgangers will not replace their predecessors perfectly, but with an open mind, the results will still be a pleasant plant-based surprise. Whether you're a skeptic of the dish looking to be proven wrong or an herbivore craving the distinctive flavors and textures of a fish dish, watermelon 'tuna' and other plant-based 'fish' could be worth a shot.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.