LITERARY COOKING ADVENTURE: Jaws
Yes. I realize that Shark Week was indeed last week. Do I care? Not really.
Last week, I held my third annual Shark Week Party complete with bloody chum-like cocktails, shark-shaped cookies, Goldfish, Sharknado 2, and of course, the Sharktermelon.
Every year so far I’ve carved a shark out of a watermelon following steps that I’ve found on line. This year’s attempt was sadly done in haste as I had run out of time to do it. Nevertheless, it came out looking ten times better than last years, which looked more like a Critter than a shark.
I think it’s the red eyes…
The first step to any good Shark Watermelon is to find yourself the perfect watermelon. In all of the original “how-to” websites, they recommend using a full-sized one. Since this was a small party and there was a chance it wasn’t all going to be eaten right away, I opted for a mini round watermelon.
In order to simulate the shark coming up out of the water, you need to cut a portion from the bottom of the watermelon at an angle. It’s a very slight angle and should always taper with it getting smaller at one end. I didn’t cut very much from the mini watermelon but for a larger one, you might have to cut more. You can also save that piece you cut off and use part of it for the fin later.
Now, we get to the fun part: the mouth. You basically want to cut a wedge out of the top left part of the watermelon. You don’t want to cut it too wide because you are going to be shaping teeth from the remaining area around the mouth. I think I cut an opening that was at least three inches wide at the widest point and tapered to the sides like a smile. You can pull this part out and enjoy it before you start getting into the hardest part of the project: the teeth.
Before you can start shaping the teeth, you first have to shave off a section of the green skin of the watermelon to reveal the white underneath. I used a paring knife to cut a shallow tapered line around the mouth. This strip is only about a half an inch wide. Then with the same knife, I picked at the skin, pulling off little flecks here and there. This was the most difficult way of doing this. I’d recommend using a pumpkin shaver (if you own one) which is fantastic for carving pumpkins around Halloween. It should pull that upper layer right off.
Now, you shape the teeth. Take that paring knife and cut upside-down triangles all along the mouth, removing pieces of watermelon as you go. In my fervor to cut the shallow line earlier, I accidentally cut it too deep and as consequence, ended up with a shark that was missing some teeth. We’ll just call him Gummy.
Now, you have to hollow out the mouth. You can use a spoon if you want to remove the watermelon but I’d recommend a melonballer if you’ve got one. It’s basically like a small ice cream scoop and ensures that all of the pieces are uniform and look pretty. Once you’ve made a giant opening in the mouth, you can put the watermelon balls back in, add other fruit, or add little Swedish Fish or Sour Patch Kids. I know; morbid. I am a writer of dark fiction.
Last step are the eyes and the fin. The eyes can be made by taking the paring knife and digging it into either side of the watermelon to make a tiny cone-shaped opening. I then pushed two chocolate chips, pointy end first, into the holes. The fin can be cut from the wedge you removed from the bottom of the watermelon. You can secure it to the back of the watermelon with toothpicks. You might have to use a couple to make sure it actually stays and, yes, they don’t always want to go in easily.
And voila! Now you have a fancy schmantzy Watermelon Shark! You can also add other things to it, like red food coloring for blood on the mouth. I know; morbid again.
Stay tuned for next week’s Video Cooking Adventure!