Watermelon Rind Banchan

This spicy, tangy banchan (side dish) is meant to be one of many different flavors and textures on a Korean table, but it’d be just as comfortable next to BBQ and a beer, on top of a taco, or in a lettuce wrap. This recipe is a simplified riff on one of my favorite Korean banchan and uses watermelon rind in place of cucumbers for a spicy, cold, and crisp, watermelon rind salad (soobak kkeobjil muchim).

Watermelon has been one of my favorite foods since I was a kid. As an adult, one of my favorite things about this recipe is that it helps use the WHOLE watermelon, which helps reduce food waste and food dollars. Botanically, watermelon and cucumber are related, and the crisp watermelon rind does indeed remind me a lot of cucumber. So it was a natural swap to use watermelon rind in this recipe that would typically use cucumber. The results are delicious, and I hope you try it!

This recipe was developed with generous support from my friends at the Watermelon Board.

Watermelon Rind Banchan
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: Korean American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 1 medium watermelon (~20 lbs)
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 Tablespoon gochujang
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder (or 1 grated garlic clove) 1 Tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
  1. Trim the watermelon rind. Start with a quarter of the watermelon, refrigerate the rest for another use. Slice into wedges, ~4" wide x 1" thick. Trim away and store red flesh for another use. Remove green outer skin. Cut each wedge rind in half. Thinly slice lengthwise. It will be 4 to 4.5 cups.
  2. Wilt the rind. In a large bowl, combine rind slices with salt. Transfer to a strainer and place strainer over bowl. Set aside.
  3. Make the dressing. Meanwhile, measure out and combine the remaining ingredients until smooth.
  4. Final prep. Pat dry the rind slices. Squeeze excess liquid out by pressing rinds between clean hands.
  5. Serve. Combine the watermelon rind slices with the dressing. Toss to coat, and serve immediately.
Good news!
There's no mis en place needed for this recipe. The rinds need time to rest, so that's when you can prep and make the dressing.

You'll have extra watermelon
This recipe works best with regular watermelon because
they have more rind than mini- watermelons. Remaining watermelon can be enjoyed in other ways. Yum!

For the best experience
Only make as much as you'll enjoy in one sitting. Flavors will be best right after combining the dressing with rinds. Dressing and rinds can be prepped and stored separately until ready to use.

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