Philippine Grilled Watermelon and Pork Belly Salad

Menu PartSalad
Cuisine TypeAsian
Philippine Grilled Watermelon and Pork Belly Salad

Chef Rebecca Peizer

Culinary Institute of America

St. Helena, Calif.

Few fruits say summer as loud and clear as watermelon. Although the large, juicy beauties are available at other times of the year, their popularity peaks with summer picnics and backyard barbecues. This salad recipe uses every part of the watermelon and highlights its versatility as a global ingredient.


Pork belly

½ cup sugar

1 cup watermelon juice

6 tbsp. rice vinegar

3 tbsp. dark soy sauce

3 tbsp. fish sauce

Juice of 1 lime

3 lb. uncured pork belly, skin removed

Watermelon rind relish

1½ lb. watermelon rind, peeled and cut into 1/4-in. dice

6 tbsp. light brown sugar

1 cup rice wine vinegar

½ cup lime juice

6 cilantro stems, cut int 1/4-in. pieces

2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

1 tsp. minced fresh ginger

¾ tsp. salt

Watermelon adobo dressing

½ cup watermelon, pureed

2 tbsp. fish sauce

½ cup rice wine vinegar

1 tbsp. light brown sugar

2 tsp. salt


8 pieces red watermelon (3-in. square by 1-in. thick)

8 pieces yellow watermelon (3-in. square by 1-in. thick)

¼ cup peanut oil

3 green onions, trimmed and sliced

3 shallots, thinly sliced

2 Thai chilies, thinly sliced

2 kaffir lime leaves, julienned

1 piece ginger (2-in.), peeled and minced

1 cup torn cilantro leaves

1 cup Thai basil leaves, torn

2 tsp. sesame oil

8 cups vegetable oil, for frying

1½ cups all-purpose flour

Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. For pork belly, preheat oven to 325 F. Combine sugar, watermelon juice, rice vinegar, soy sauce, fish sauce and lime juice in a bowl; stir to combine.
  2. Place pork belly in ovenproof dish; cover with the watermelon juice mixture. Cover with foil and place dish in preheated oven. Braise 2 hours; chill. Once cold, cut pork belly into 1-inch cubes; set aside.
  3. For watermelon rind relish: In large bowl, combine watermelon rinds with sugar, vinegar, lime juice, cilantro stems, garlic, ginger and salt. Chill in refrigerator for 1 hour.
  4. For watermelon adobo dressing, combine all ingredients in saucepot. Over medium heat, bring to a simmer; cool. Transfer dressing to mixing bowl; whisk together until combined.
  5. For salad, Prepare grill for cooking. Coat watermelon pieces in ¼ cup peanut oil; grill on high until charred on both sides. Cut in half.
  6. Coat reserved pork belly in flour, salt and pepper. In deep fryer, heat 8 cups oil to 350 F. Fry pork until crispy.
  7. To assemble, toss pork belly with watermelon rind relish and remaining salad ingredients. Add dressing; toss well.
  8. Plate grilled watermelon pieces with pork belly salad on top. Garnish with basil leaves and additional rind relish.

Photograph courtesy of National Watermelon Board

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