When you go to a Korean restaurant one of the very best part of the whole deal is the assortment of banchan they serve as you are perusing the menu.
Technically banchan means “side dishes” in Korean, though if you are part of my dining group those little dishes of sweet and salty and savory nibbles never make it to the moment the actual meals are served, but get hoovered down with drinks while you are debating between the japchae and the bibimbap. If you are in the right place, the dishes will get refilled. I recommend bringing along an adorable child if only for the purpose of holding out a little dish with plaintive eyes and looking like a displaced Oliver.
Anyway, you can eat the various dishes that comprise banchan on their own, with rice, or tucked into or alongside whatever you decided to order for your main dish.
Probably the most famous and popular of the banchan assortments is kimchi, a pickled vegetable cured in a mixture of onion, ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes, sugar, anchovies or some other fermented fish deal. Napa cabbage is the most commonly found starring vegetable, often mixed with daikon and/or carrot. I can eat it by the chopstick-ful, and those little plates never look smaller than when they have a teeny portion of kimchi on them.
But today we are playing with this kimchi concept, and we get to make as much as we want. The good folks at the National Watermelon Promotion Board asked me if I would like to develop a recipe featuring watermelon. But not just any old recipe: a recipe featuring the rind. And so I decided to see what kind of kimchi could be made with the part of one of the best fruits in the world that just usually gets….. thrown away. (Boo.)
Here some of the classic flavors of a kimchi marinade (and some twists on those flavors) get married up with peeled and slivered watermelon rind.
Is this an orthodox kimchee? No siree, and I’m ok with that – I will leave authenticity to the experts, and just be happy in the knowledge that whenever we are slurping down watermelon, we need to save the rinds and this kimchee will be in our future. Because why wouldn’t you#UseTheWholeWatermelon?
The watermelon kimchi will last for at least a week in the fridge, getting a bit stronger as it sits. That should be just long enough for you to need another watermelon.
Other Korean Inspired Recipes:
- Spicy Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Kimchi Dressing
- Korean Tofu Salad
- Korean Mushrooms
- Spicy Greens Salad with Gochujang Dressing
- 1 ½ pounds well-peeled watermelon rind all flesh scraped out
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- ¼ cup fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 6 cloves garlic chopped
- 2 tablespoons peeled chopped fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons kochujang paste
- 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes use Korean chili flakes if you can find them: gochugaru
- 5 scallions trimmed and thinly sliced (white and green parts)
- ¼ cup minced red onion
- Toasted sesame seeds for garnish, optional
- Slice the watermelon rind into 2-inch or so pieces, then use a vegetable peeler to scrape the rind into super thin slices. Don’t worry about evenly sized pieces. Place the thin watermelon slices into a colander and sprinkle with the salt. Toss well, and let sit in the sink to drain for about 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place the fish sauce, sugar, garlic, ginger, and kochujang paste in a food processor and process to combine. Turn the mixture into a large bowl and stir in the chili flakes, scallions, and red onion.
- Rinse the watermelon rind with cold water, then squeeze it in handfuls to remove excess water. Spread out the watermelon rind on a clean, dry dishtowel. Roll up the dishtowel with the rind in it, and squeeze it out over the sink to remove as much water as possible. Unroll the dishtowel and add the watermelon rind to the marinade. Toss to combine.
- Transfer the kimchi to a clean jar, cover, refrigerate, and let marinate for at least 24 hours before serving. Top with the sesame seeds if desired.
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