Craving a tuna as a vegan? Prepare to have your mind blown by this totally realistic “tuna” made from watermelon! This Watermelon Tuna Tartare is of course vegan, surprisingly easy, and can be used in any recipe that calls for tuna. If you want more vegan tuna be sure to try my VEGAN POKE BOWL.
Tuna Made Plant Based
Before going vegan, I used to love tuna recipes. Though I don’t want to eat fish again, I miss tuna based recipes. Thanks to this super realistic watermelon tuna tartare recipe, I can have tuna again minus the cruelty and environmental impact. Who doesn’t love a fresh tuna tartare??
Here are all the delicious ingredients:
- Seedless Watermelon.
- Sesame Oil.
- Ginger Powder.
- Flaxseed Oil (optional)
- Kelp Granules (optional)
For the tartare I added sushi rice, diced avocado, scallions, and sesame seeds. Feel free to customize however you’d like! To mold the tartare, make sure to use this TARTARE MOLD from Amazon.
On paper it’s hard to believe watermelon can taste like tuna, so you’ll just have to try for yourself. While they taste very similar, I would argue watermelon tuna is fresher. And, it stays fresh longer! Keep these in the fridge for up to a week.
After baking the tuna, the chunks lose most of their water leaving you with smaller, buttery pieces that feel and taste like tuna. Make sure to bring this dish along to your next dinner party to impress your friends!
I went through a lot of trial and error with the watermelon tuna, but I finally figured out HOW to perfect the “tuna” – this isn’t a quick, instant gratification process by any means, but once you make the tuna it lasts for days. To note:
- The watermelon should be baked for at least 50 minutes flipping halfway through. I always check on mine after 30 minutes and it gives me a pretty good idea of how much more time they need. The texture should be that of tuna – silky, buttery, and smooth.
- Make sure to spread watermelon out – they will shrink quite a bit and lose a ton of water, so cut them into large chunks and give them space to breathe on the tray. I used 2 large trays and had enough tuna for a week.
- I love the marinade as it helps add the traditional flavors you get from tuna tartares. If you’re looking for a more plain tuna you can flavor later, just do a mix of sesame oil, flaxseed oil, and either kelp granules or nori.
Watermelon Tuna Tartare
- 1/2 cup cooked sushi rice
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1/2 avocado
- chopped green onion
- lime wedge
- black sesame seeds
- 1 seedless watermelon
- 2 tbsp tahini
- 1.5 tbsp sesame oil
- 1.5 tbsp flaxseed oil can sub for sesame oil if you don't have
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 cup tamari or soy sauce
- 1 tbsp furikake
- 1 tsp kelp granules optional
- 1/4 cup water
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Add all marinade ingredients to a bowl and whisk until smooth.
- Chop the watermelon into even cubes – keep in mind the cubes shrink, so don't make them too small.
- Separate the watermelon onto baking trays (make sure they’re not too crowded!) and lightly coat them with the marinade. Make sure not to use all the marinade, just a light even coat brushed on all pieces.
- Cook for 30 minutes then stir the cubes. Add back into the oven in for another 25 minutes then check to make sure the texture is right. Depending on the size of your cubes and your specific oven, this could take longer or shorter so continuously check up on them. It's better to overcook them than undercook them, so don't be nervous if they start charring – that's normal!
- Once they’re done, they should have a tuna-like consistency. Silky, smooth, and buttery. They should not be chunky and hard, if they are add them back into the oven. Allow the watermelon to cool completely then place into a plastic bag with the marinade. Give the bag a good shake, and leave in the fridge for at LEAST 24 hours.
- After 24 hours, remove each poke one by one and place onto a paper towel. Use another paper towel to lightly tap some of the marinade off.
- Chop the tuna you are using for the tartare into tiny pieces and put any leftovers in the fridge. They should last about a week.
- Assemble your tartares! Using a tartare mold (see blog post for the one I use) add in about 1/4 cup of rice and firmly press down. Next add in 1/4 avocado diced and gently press down. Add the chopped watermelon tuna next then top with chopped green onion, black sesame seeds, lime, and a sprinkle of salt or tamari if desired.
- Carefully remove the mold and enjoy!