Kitchen Culture

tasty tidbits from the old-fashioned Japanese Kitchen



In Japan, fresh fruit is often a gift item, especially exceedingly expensive melons. Even in ordinary supermarkets where home cooks shop to serve their families, melons fetch a high price. The Andes melon you see here is a honeydew-sweet varietal that is grown in Kumamoto Prefecture, despite its South American-sounding name. The variety's name is short for:

ANshinDESu : 安心です ANDES


I bought it for the equivalent of $10 US at my local Tokyo supermarket. I was one, of 50, lucky customers to grab the day's limited sales item (gentei hanbai 限定販売). Ordinarily, the melons go for twice that price.

Not wanting to waste a single drop of the delicious, precious, juice that trickled out when I cut the melon in half, I made a refreshing aspic from it. How? By scraping the seeds (and melon meat that clings to them) into a strainer set over a bowl.

Pressing the seeds, I was able to release and collect about 2/3 cup juice from a fairly small melon (this one weighed in at 700 grams, about 1 and 1/2 pounds).

I mixed the melon juice with kanten 寒天 (agar agar) to make a refreshing aspic.