LUNCH

Watermelon Tuna! • It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken

You won’t believe this Watermelon Tuna recipe! Just 7 ingredients and 1 hour of hands-off baking is all it takes to transform regular watermelon into a vegan tuna steak- no fishies harmed! Nori, soy sauce, miso paste, and a few other ingredients are used to season the watermelon, then the key is to bake the watermelon, which completely changes the watermelon to a tender raw fish texture. This recipe is a must-try!

You won't believe this watermelon tuna recipe! Just 7 ingredients and 1 hour of hands-off baking is all it takes to transform regular watermelon into a vegan tuna steak- no fishies harmed! Nori, soy sauce, miso paste, and a few other ingredients are used to season the watermelon, then the key is to bake the watermelon, which completely changes the watermelon to a tender raw fish texture. This recipe is a must-try! #itdoesnttastelikechicken #veganseafood

I’m not new to the idea of using watermelon as a vegan fish substitute. I actually shared a recipe for Spicy Watermelon Vegan Sushi back in 2017 where uncooked watermelon is chopped up and tossed in a spicy mayo sauce (yum)! But recently there has been a new trend where the watermelon is baked which completely transforms the texture from crispy and juicy, to tender and much more similar to raw fish. It’s so cool!

There are a lot of influencers sharing their take on vegan watermelon tuna, but I was first inspired by Sam (great name 😉) of @nomeatdisco version which I tried making and shared in my Instagram stories (it was super delicious)! Follow Sam for more amazing plant-based recipes- I have to try his cauliflower nuggets next!

I loved the flavors of the watermelon tuna but I wanted to simplify the recipe a little, so today I am presenting you with my version of watermelon tuna. Easy to make, perfect for making ahead, and can be enjoyed anyway you like!

You won't believe this watermelon tuna recipe! Just 7 ingredients and 1 hour of hands-off baking is all it takes to transform regular watermelon into a vegan tuna steak- no fishies harmed! Nori, soy sauce, miso paste, and a few other ingredients are used to season the watermelon, then the key is to bake the watermelon, which completely changes the watermelon to a tender raw fish texture. This recipe is a must-try! #itdoesnttastelikechicken #veganseafood

Ingredients:

Nori: is the seaweed used to make sushi rolls. It is easily available in most grocery stores. I chop up the nori with kitchen scissors and add it to the marinade to help add a fishy taste.

Soy sauce: is used to add umami and salt. If you are gluten-free you can sub it for tamari.

Apple cider vinegar: is added to help cut the sweetness of the watermelon. Some other recipes call for rice vinegar, but rice vinegar is often seasoned with sugar so I didn’t want to add any additional sweetness to the watermelon.

Light oil (such as canola or vegetable oil): is used to help cook the watermelon evenly and add some fattiness to the watermelon tuna. Other recipes called for sesame oil, but the strong sesame flavor doesn’t taste like tuna to me, so I preferred a neutral oil. If you want the sesame oil taste (such as if you are using this watermelon tuna in a poke bowl), you could substitute 1 tablespoon of light oil for 1 tablespoon sesame oil.

Miso paste: adds more umami and savoriness to the watermelon. It’s one of my favorite ingredients to use in my vegan seafood recipes.

Garlic: and lastly 4 cloves (or about 2 tsp) of minced garlic.

Common Questions:

What does watermelon tuna taste like? Watermelon tuna has a similar taste to tuna fish, except it is slightly sweeter. It works wonderfully as sashimi, in a sushi roll, in a poke bowl, served on rice or noodles, or enjoyed as a main with roasted potatoes and a salad.

Can watermelon be used as a meat substitute? Absolutely! When watermelon is baked, the texture completely changes. It gets soft and slightly chewy making it a similar texture to raw fish.

Slice the watermelon into tuna steak sized pieces

How to make Watermelon Tuna:

Preheat your oven to 375F (190C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

To prep the watermelon: cut the watermelon into 1-inch thick slices. Cut off and discard the rind, and cut it into steak-sized pieces. Depending on your watermelon size and shape you should get about 6 watermelon steaks. (I like to make tuna steaks, but you could also chop it into cubes if you prefer, which will take less time to bake).

Mix up the simple marinade.

To make watermelon tuna: In a large baking dish or a sealable bag, mix together the chopped-up nori sheets, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, oil, miso paste, and garlic.

Coat the watermelon in the marinade

Add the watermelon and coat in the marinade. Spread the watermelon slices on the lined baking sheet in a single layer, and drizzle over any leftover marinade. (There is no need for marinating as the flavors will infuse in the oven, and even more if you store the watermelon overnight).

Bake the watermelon tuna for 1 hour.

Bake for 1 hour or until the watermelon is soft and has a fishy texture when pierced with a fork.

To serve: You can enjoy the watermelon tuna warm or cold. My favorite way to serve it is to let the watermelon tuna cool completely, then store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. The longer you store it in the fridge, the more tuna-y it will become! When ready to enjoy, drain off the excess juices, and optionally brush the nori off of the watermelon (just for presentation). Slice it, and enjoy it like sashimi or make a sushi roll. You can also enjoy it with rice, on noodles, in a poke bowl, or with a side salad and roast potatoes. Optionally you can sprinkle with sesame seeds as I did in these photos.

You won't believe this watermelon tuna recipe! Just 7 ingredients and 1 hour of hands-off baking is all it takes to transform regular watermelon into a vegan tuna steak- no fishies harmed! Nori, soy sauce, miso paste, and a few other ingredients are used to season the watermelon, then the key is to bake the watermelon, which completely changes the watermelon to a tender raw fish texture. This recipe is a must-try! #itdoesnttastelikechicken #veganseafood

This watermelon tuna is…

  • a cruelty-free fish alternative
  • easy to make
  • surprisingly fishy!

More vegan seafood recipes you might enjoy:

The Best Vegan Ceviche
Sticky Garlic Vegan Salmon
Vegan Garlic Seared Scallops
Easy Vegan Crab Cakes

If you try this recipe let us know by leaving a comment, rating it, and don’t forget to tag @itdoesnttastelikechicken on Instagram.

Bon appetegan!
Sam Turnbull.

Print Recipe

Watermelon Tuna!

You won’t believe this vegan tuna recipe! Just 7 ingredients and 1 hour of hands-off baking is all it takes to transform regular watermelon into a tuna steak- no fishies harmed! Nori, soy sauce, miso paste, and a few other ingredients are used to season the watermelon, then the key is to bake the watermelon, which completely changes the watermelon to a tender raw fish texture. This recipe is a must-try!

Prep Time15 mins

Cook Time1 hr

Total Time1 hr 15 mins

Course: Main Course

Cuisine: American

Servings: 6

Calories: 124kcal

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs watermelon *see step 1 for prep
  • 2 sheets nori finely chopped *see notes
  • ¼ cup soy sauce (gluten-free if preferred)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons light oil (such as canola or vegetable)
  • 1 tablespoon miso paste
  • 4 cloves garlic minced or pressed

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Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 375F (190C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

  • To prep the watermelon: cut the watermelon into 1-inch thick slices. Cut off and discard the rind, and cut it into steak-sized pieces. Depending on your watermelon size and shape you should get about 6 steaks. If your watermelon has seeds you may want to pick them out.

  • To make watermelon tuna: In a large baking dish or a sealable bag, mix together the nori, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, oil, miso paste, and garlic. Add the watermelon and coat in the marinade.

  • Spread the watermelon slices on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer, and pour over any leftover marinade. (There is no need to let the watermelon marinate as the flavors will infuse in the oven). Bake for 1 hour or until the watermelon is soft and has a fishy texture when pierced with a fork.

  • To serve: You can enjoy the watermelon tuna warm or cold. My favorite way to serve it is to let the watermelon tuna cool completely, then store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. The longer you store it in the fridge, the more tuna-y it will become! When ready to enjoy, I brush the nori off of the watermelon (which is optional), slice it, and enjoy it like sashimi or make a sushi roll. You can also enjoy it with rice, on noodles, in a poke bowl, or with a side salad and roast potatoes.

Notes

Nori: nori is the seaweed you use to make sushi with, it’s what adds a fishy taste. Chop the nori into fine flakes, I find it’s easiest to do this with kitchen scissors.
 

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving (recipe makes 6 servings) | Calories: 124kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.03g | Sodium: 649mg | Potassium: 295mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 1338IU | Vitamin C: 19mg | Calcium: 24mg | Iron: 1mg




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