recipe

Credit: EARL CARTER

Grilled rockmelon with turmeric, fetta and mint

As a youngster, I always had an aversion to rockmelon, or cantaloupe as we call it in Tasmania and Victoria. To my younger nose, it had a pungent odour, akin to old socks. It wasn’t until I travelled to Japan, where melons are coveted and a single one can cost thousands of dollars, that I began to appreciate them. Japanese farmers grow many different varietals within the rockmelon classification, and it is common practice to thin the fruit down to one per vine – so as to intensify the flavour.

On a recent visit to my friend Palisa Anderson, who has the fantastic Boon Luck Farm just out of Byron Bay, we ploughed through tasting four varieties of melon, all with such different flavours and textures. Some were almost blossom-like in their scent.

Alternative melon varieties have been popping up in produce markets all summer, so get out there and try some. It’s the French varietals I have tasted that have been the most aromatic, and the one I used for this dish was a Petit Gris de Rennes. An excellent summer not-quite-sweet but not-quite-savoury salad, it works well as an accompaniment to many dishes.

Grilled rockmelon with turmeric, fetta and mint

Serves 4

– 1 rockmelon

– 10g fresh turmeric

– 10g fresh young ginger

– 100ml grapeseed oil

– ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

– 20ml white wine vinegar

– 40ml honey

– 200g goat’s- or sheep’s-milk fetta

– 20 large mint leaves

– 10 large Vietnamese mint leaves

Cut the outer skin off the melon and segment into five-centimetre-wide half-moon shapes. Scoop out the seeds and place the melon segments flat side down on a charcoal grill. Cook on all sides until they blacken slightly (this should take between five and eight minutes). If the grill is not hot enough or isn’t charcoal, lessen the cooking time and only cook on one side (the dry heat from coal stops the flesh from going too pulpy).

Peel the turmeric and ginger and pound using a mortar and pestle until it is uniform but not quite a paste. Place the mix into a pot with the oil and bring up to 85 degrees for five minutes. Add the black pepper, then let the oil cool before finishing with the vinegar and the honey.

Cut the melon into large chunks and toss through the turmeric dressing. Place into a shallow serving bowl, then crumble the fetta over the melon. Roll the mint leaves together and shred finely with a very sharp knife. Using a blunt knife will result in the end flavour being more akin to grass than lovely sweet mint. Scatter the shredded mint to finish.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Feb 23, 2019 as "Grilled rockmelon with turmeric, fetta and mint". Subscribe here.

David Moyle
is a chef. He is a food editor of The Saturday Paper.