Watermelon 'Tuna' Tastes Surprisingly Similar to the Real Thing

It's a vegan way to get your sushi fix.

As someone trying to eat more plant-based, I enjoy finding vegan meat alternatives that can compare to a juicy burger or crispy bacon. In a recent TikTok video (because apparently, that's the primary source of my recipe inspiration lately), a user made watermelon tuna, or "tuna tartare." It reminded me of a vegan poke bowl on the menu of a restaurant I frequented in St. Louis. I had about a cup of cubed watermelon left in my fridge, so I decided to take a chance on making it myself. (Real sushi is still an occasional treat for me, and I was craving it.) It took about a day to do the whole process, but it was worth it! I could still taste the watermelon, but it took on a texture that mimicked tuna and tasted similar. It was delicious! If you're interested in trying this mind-blowing watermelon "tuna" recipe, here's how I did it.

watermelon tuna pieces on plate with chopsticks
Katlyn Moncada

How to Make Vegan Watermelon Tuna

I used a very full cup of cubed watermelon. Feel free to adjust the amount based on your taste preferences and how much fruit you have. There's also a YouTube video that shows the process in a little more detail I found helpful.

  1. Add your watermelon to a bowl and drizzle with 1 tsp. sesame oil, 1 tsp. rice vinegar, 1 Tbsp. soy sauce, 1-2 Tbsp. neutral-flavored oil such as grapeseed and a pinch or two of crushed red pepper flakes. Give it a gentle stir and marinate in a resealable bag or airtight container for at least 6 hours.
  2. Arrange watermelon pieces on a parchment-lined baking sheet (reserve your marinade for later) and put in a 350ºF oven for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  3. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Drizzle some of the reserved marinade onto your watermelon. Roll in black and white sesame seeds, if desired. Enjoy!
watermelon tuna poke bowl
I enjoyed my watermelon tuna poke bowl-style with black sushi rice, pickled onions, carrots, and salad greens. Katlyn Moncada

I already loved watermelon with savory dishes like my favorite summer salad, but I still can't believe this vegan watermelon tuna turned out shockingly similar (in taste and texture) to the real thing. If you're eating plant-based or maybe you don't like the idea of eating raw fish, this is an excellent option for you. It's delicious on its own, but I decided to make it a vegan dinner by serving it over some black sushi-style rice seasoned with Trader Joe's furikake seasoning and veggies. This watermelon tuna could make a great vegan sushirito, too.

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