This was pulled from a free Costco recipe book I picked up in the States a couple months back. Not a bad looking book I must say. A mixture of twists on simple classics from around the world to fare that one might find in many of today’s bestselling cookbooks of U.S. celebrity chefs. The book is online for full viewing along with over a thousand other recipes if you want to check them out.
While glancing more at photos than words (hmm), I stumbled across an interesting combination of stir-fried chicken laid upon a bed of diced watermelon. Interesting in how the two main characters were plated than seeing them together. Being one who enjoys a good pairing of salty and sweet, particularly of fruit and meat, I’m always eager to try something new. We’re in the midst of summer and with watermelon temporarily hanging out in the produce section, why not give it a shot. But, how would it turn out?
Since no fresh ginger was to be found, I was off to a bad start. A local market that usually carries the stuff year round just so happened to be out of stock. What timing. I had ginger powder but that’s the equivalent of substituting a good meaty stock with water. Everything else? No problem.
Next was modifying the recipe (like always). I don’t want to delve too far into wok cooking but let me say that I’m not a fan of such recipes in general cookbooks. Follow the directions exactly as they say and you’ll often end up with an overcooked or steamed tasting pile of crap. Part of that is due to many recipes calling for four servings to be cooked all at once. For what should be a quick stir-fry, that is just a recipe for disaster. Even more if one attempts the recipe on an electric stove, in a teflon-coated wok, or the horrifyingly useless electric wok. Four chicken breasts, such as what this recipe calls for, will just crowd and cool the wok, making the process hardly different than using a sauté pan. Cooking batches of one to two servings in a well-seasoned wok is the key. Also, a high BTU super flame-spewing gas burner and/or not having a care in the world about filling your home with smoke would help–unless you have an expensive ventilation system that is far enough not to get torched. How many people have those?
I didn’t follow the proper measurements of soy sauce and oil, just eyeballed it to my standards, but stayed true with everything else on the list. Although, I did add a little splash sesame oil into the equation. The chicken was fried up until almost done, then went in the onions and garlic, and finally the mixture of soy sauce, vermouth, ginger powder, and sesame oil. I had to slice the watermelon into larger chunks than what the picture displayed. My green skin friend was too ripe and would have ended up being a big pile of melon slush if I minced it.
No sparks in my mouth. The sweet juiciness of the watermelon obliterated any other flavors. No contrasting clashes of flavors as one experiences with honeydew melon and prosciutto. I felt as if I was eating chewy salty watermelon. However, no hard feelings, it wasn’t wretched or anything of the sort, quite refreshing actually, but nothing memorable. Perhaps the lack of fresh ginger was partly to blame. The addition of a sauce might have helped too.