Monday, July 19, 2010

Sesame-Chile Chicken with Gingered Watermelon Salsa

Hot, summer weather always brings to mind platters filled with red, juicy, watermelon triangles.  Some 20 years ago my Aunt Vicki was the first person to bring a seedless watermelon to our house.  I can remember her and my mom talking about how much more that melon cost than the "regular" seeded watermelons, but how special it was to have this new variety.  Today seedless seems to be the norm... actually, I don't think my kids have ever had a seeded watermelon!

That brings us to proper watermelon choosing...  Do you thump to check for freshness?  Look for bee stings to prove sweetness?  Lift to feel if it is heavy and laden with juices?  Check for darker (or lighter?) stripes to discern ripeness?  Whatever your method, it's always frustrating to bring home what looks like a perfect melon, only to have it dry and mealy inside.  Personally, I stick to the thumping method with a fair amount of success - definitely not foolproof though!

Luckily... our last watermelon didn't let us down.  With it's bright red flesh, juice dripping from the knife and sweet scent I knew this one was a winner even before I tasted it.  Our mouths watered as we made that first cut and we fully enjoyed those much anticipated triangles with dinner.

With only a quarter of the melon used (it was a darn big one!) I was excited to remember this chicken recipe that had been stashed away since last summer.   My friend Becky discovered this recipe years ago and served it to rousing reviews.  Last night my family was thrilled that I had remembered Sesame-Chile chicken with the Gingered Watermelon Salsa and we all savored our meal.

The chicken alone is a wonderful, easy and tasty main course, but with the salsa it is even more amazing.  All of the ingredients toss together quickly for one of those "I'm short on time" evenings and served with a side of grilled zucchini or asparagus and a scoop of rice it does indeed make a wonderful meal.

Chile Chicken with Gingered Watermelon Salsa
adapted from Cooking Light

2  Tbs  low-sodium soy sauce
1  to 2 Tbs chili sauce with garlic
1  Tbs  dark sesame oil
4  (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves 

 2  cups diced, seeded watermelon
¼  cup diced bell pepper
2  Tbs diced red onion
2  Tbs chopped fresh cilantro
½ tsp  ginger powder
2   tsp rice vinegar
1   tsp  fresh lime juice
⅛  teaspoon  salt
1  jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
To prepare chicken, combine first 3 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag.  Add chicken to bag;  seal and marinate in refrigerator for 1 hour, turning bag occasionally

Prepare grill.

To prepare salsa, combine watermelon and next 8 ingredients (through jalapeño);  cover and chill until ready to serve.

Remove chicken from marinade;  discard marinade.  Place chicken on a grill rack coated with cooking spray.  Grill 6 minutes on each side or until done.  Remove chicken from grill; let stand 5 minutes.  Cut chicken diagonally across grain into thin slices; serve with salsa.  Garnish with cilantro sprigs and serve with lime wedges, if desired.


  1. I'm still waiting for the "perfect watermelon" to make this. This recipe is my favorite summer recipe and so glad you liked it enough to include in your blog.

  2. We owe this summer favorite to you. Brian still says it's better when you make it...!! :)

  3. Kim, this is a beautiful dish. One of my favorite people to cook for (my Dad!) is spending the weekend with us, and the grilled chicken with this fresh, summery salsa would be great to serve him!

    Smell... That's ALWAYS for 30 years how I choose the best melons. A good sniff, especially near the stem end, gives you a really good idea of how it will taste, This works better on cantaloupe and honeydew types of melons, but to some extent watermelon too. Works for pineapples as well. A friend who always chose the best watermelons told me to look for "sugar spots", rough patches of brown. His method usually works, too!!!

    A method for every cook!!!

    Thanks for sharing your lovely site. Your photos are really pretty.

  4. Sounds absolutely delightful! Here in Germany, the melons aren't as big as the ones fond stateside, so this recipe is perfect. I love Cooking Light recipes, so this recipe looks like something I should try for sure!


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