The watermelon is the glamour star of summer fruits. On a hot sunny afternoon, the tastiest way to keep cool is to take a bite of a refreshingly cold one.
Words & Photo: Kay Choomongkol
In Thailand, the watermelon is easy to find in any open air market, supermarket or at any fruit cart on the street. You can find several watermelon varieties available. The four most popular ones in Thailand are Jintara (recognisable with its striped skin and oval shape and red flesh) the Torpedo (a large oval shape, with a crisp flesh and fewer seeds). Kinnaree (marked by a dark green skin, round shape and red flesh) and Nam Phueng (called honey, aromatic and yellow, with a crisp bite.)
Another great way to enjoy the thirst-quenching properties of the watermelon is to hulp down a shake, one of the all-time favourite slushy drinks in Thailand. The Thai people have much passion for this juiciest of fruits and it’s not just appreciated as a sweet treat, but also as a savoury one. At the peak of summer, it’s an ideal accompaniment in the recipe called Phad Pla Haeng Tang U-lit or Phad Pla Haeng Taengmo (Fried Salted Snakehead Fish with Watermelon). This well-known summer dish from the early Rattanakosin era was created when ice was scarce and enjoyed in the absence of refrigeration.
The recipe calls for the flaked meat of fried salted fish that is seasoned with sugar, salt and crispy fried shallots. Watermelon pieces get topped with this fried salted fish and enjoyed in one bite as a snack or mixing the fried salted fish with steamed rice for a light meal. The combination of salt and sweet is a common enough in many cuisines, and this summer treat is no exception.
Some varieties of watermelons come with different sizes of seeds and less flesh, and grown intentionally for thier larger seeds. Once separated from the rest of the watermelon, they get washed, soaked in salted water and then roasted to make Guay Ji or Guazi, one of the most popular snacks in China. These nutty-flavoured seeds can be traced to the Yuan Dynasty and was very common in the ming and Qing dynasties as well. So enjoy a watermelon in its wholesomeness – take a bite of its crisp juiciness or practise the art of cracking a seed for its nourishing crunch.