Vegan Watermelon "Tuna" Bowl Recipe

Just when you think you've seen it all, this vegan watermelon tuna will shock you with its uncanny resemblance to fresh ahi tuna. This refreshing twist on the real thing is perfect for those who eat vegan or those who want a hydrating meal with great flavor. You get the slight sweetness from the watermelon paired with the rich, umami flavor from the soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame oil. Adding in dulse granules delivers a taste from the ocean and magically mimics the taste of ahi as we know it.

Wellness coach and recipe developer Miriam Hahn brings us this recipe and says, "One of my favorite things to do is take a classic dish and make it vegan. Over the years, I have learned many tips and tricks to do this, and this recipe is one that has become a client and family favorite." Keep reading to learn how to make this delicious meal that caters to a wide variety of dietary preferences but is a must-try for everyone looking for a hydrating and savory dining experience.

Gather the ingredients for a vegan watermelon tuna bowl

To make this recipe, you'll, of course, need some seedless watermelon. You can buy this already cut-up or go for a whole watermelon so that you have plenty to enjoy later. While you're in the produce aisle, pick up romaine, carrots or shredded carrots, English cucumber, radishes, avocado, and mango. You'll also need shelled edamame, which you can buy fresh or frozen.

For the umami flavoring, you'll need soy sauce, rice vinegar, sriracha, sesame oil, dulse granules, powdered ginger, and sesame seeds. Dulse is a key ingredient here, as it offers the fishy taste that gives the bowl a tuna-like flavor. If you want to go for a stronger taste from the sea, you can use a crushed nori sheet or seaweed snack. We are going to add some cooked rice to the bowl, so make sure that you have some of that ready to go.

Step 1: Preheat the oven

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Step 2: Bake the watermelon

Arrange the watermelon on a baking sheet and cook for 45 minutes, then cool for 30 minutes.

Step 3: Make the sauce

In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, vinegar, sriracha, sesame oil, dulse granules, garlic, ginger, and sesame seeds.

Step 4: Toss the watermelon and sauce

Add the watermelon to the bowl and toss gently.

Step 5: Marinate the mixture

Cover and marinate for 1 hour.

Step 6: Assemble the bowls

Distribute the lettuce between two bowls, then add the marinated watermelon, edamame, cooked rice, carrots, cucumber, radishes, avocado, and mango.

Step 7: Garnish and serve

Garnish with optional lime wedges, and serve.

Vegan Watermelon Tuna Bowl Recipe
No Ratings
This fresh, vegetable-packed watermelon salad uses a unique marinade with dulse granules to turn the summer fruit into savory cubes that resemble ahi tuna.
Prep Time
1.75
hours
Cook Time
45
minutes
Servings
2
servings
large bowl of salad ingredients
Total time: 2 hours, 30 minutes
Ingredients
  • 4 cups cubed seedless watermelon
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon dulse granules
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon powdered ginger
  • ½ tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 4 cups chopped romaine
  • 1 cup carrot ribbons or shredded carrots
  • 1 cup shelled edamame
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • ½ English cucumber, sliced
  • 2 radishes, sliced
  • ½ avocado, sliced
  • ½ mango, sliced
Optional Ingredients
  • Lime wedges
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Arrange the watermelon on a baking sheet and cook for 45 minutes, then cool for 30 minutes.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, vinegar, sriracha, sesame oil, dulse granules, garlic, ginger, and sesame seeds.
  4. Add the watermelon to the bowl and toss gently.
  5. Cover and marinate for 1 hour.
  6. Distribute the lettuce between two bowls, then add the marinated watermelon, edamame, cooked rice, carrots, cucumber, radishes, avocado, and mango.
  7. Garnish with optional lime wedges, and serve.
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What are tips on buying and chopping watermelon to use as vegan tuna?

When buying watermelon for this recipe, you can buy it already cut-up, or you can buy it whole and cut it yourself. If you are buying pre-cut watermelon, check it to make sure that it looks fresh and crisp, like it has just been cut. If it has been sitting for a few days, it will darken in color, have lots of liquid in the container, and start to look translucent. If you're buying whole watermelon, a mini, seedless watermelon works perfect. You should get a hollow sound when you thump it, and the melon should be heavy, indicating that it is full of water and not drying out.

Cut the watermelon in half crosswise to start. Then, cut one piece in half again so that you have two large wedges. Then, position the watermelon with one flat side down and cut it into two-inch slices. Run a knife along the inside of the core and discard. You are now left with a half-moon shape. Cut off the round part, then trim the remaining rectangle into chunks. You should only need about ½ of a mini watermelon for this recipe.

What are other ingredients I can use in this watermelon salad?

The vegan watermelon tuna pairs nicely with all vegetables, so there are many options for other add-ins and customizations. You can add thinly sliced purple cabbage, chopped or sliced red or yellow bell peppers, chopped tomatoes or halved grape tomatoes, sugar snap peas, blanched asparagus, or scallions.

We've included mango in the salad, and other fruits, such as chopped pineapple, pomegranate arils, or citrus segments, would complement the spicy vegan tuna, as well. Although the edamame in this recipe already provides a substantial amount of protein, you can also add in marinated tofu that has been seared, canned chickpeas, or cooked tempeh for an extra protein boost. 

Finally, fresh herbs are always nice to add to buddha bowls and salads. Consider adding chopped cilantro or Italian parsley, while classic watermelon pairings of mint leaves or basil slivers would work well, also.