Watermelon Is The Unexpected Pairing To Balance Out Salty Oysters

Mignonette, lemon wedges, hot sauce, a glass of Champagne — these are the typical options that come to mind when pairing oysters. However, there is something to be said for creative accompaniments. Not only are they capable of shaking up flavor, but out-of-the-box ingredients can also craft a sense of equilibrium in a totally unexpected way, such is the case with watermelon and oysters.

Depending on the species and place of origin, oysters can look, taste, and feel vastly different. Evidently, this is why a Bélon oyster can be meaty and mineral-forward, a Raspberry Point silky and candy-like, and a Kumamoto creamy and vegetal. Yet, despite these very niche nuances, any and every oyster variety shares one commonality, and that's an underlying punch of salinity. That said, this can be a challenge when pairing the shellfish with other ingredients. This is where watermelon comes in.

From a seed-speckled Charleston Gray to a golden-fleshed Desert King, juicy watermelon counteracts the intense pucker of a sea salt-kissed oyster. How? Since oysters require something sweet to tame this overwhelming brine, syrupy watermelon willingly rises to the task. In return, the brackishness from the shellfish can make the fruit seem more honeyed. Naturally, the duo makes for an incredibly exciting fusion of flavors.

How to pair oysters and watermelon

Now that we've explained the science behind why this pairing works, it's time to delve into some delicious examples. Similar to how you can experiment with oyster varieties and melon varieties, you can also get as inventive as you want when considering how to prepare these ingredients.

Starting with raw oysters served on the half shell, balance oysters' brine with a refreshing melon mignonette sauce. To the tangy trio of vinegar, shallots, and peppercorns, simply whisk in a splash of watermelon purée or add diced fruit (but, also rind!) to the mix. Alternatively, you could also top freshly shucked oysters with a colorful watermelon granita. Or, better yet, focus on serving just oyster meat as the main ingredient for melon and citrus ceviche. You can even add the meat over top of a vibrant watermelon gazpacho.

Additionally, you can pair watermelon with cooked oysters. For starters, steam the shellfish, swapping white wine for a cup of watermelon juice to brighten flavors. In contrast, you can also fry oysters and add them to a po' boy with chunks of pickled watermelon or grilled watermelon salsa. To really up your pairing game, serve oysters with a watermelon cocktail for a combo that's sure to please!