vegan watermelon tuna

This vegan watermelon tuna recipe seems crazy, trust us, we know. When we first heard about using watermelon as a tuna replacement we were skeptical. A sweet melon used to replace a salty large ocean fish? When I came up with this recipe I knew that the transformation would occur because of the marinade. It needed to have strong flavours that would soak into the melon steaks. We were blown away by the final result of this recipe. The texture was just like raw tuna you would find at a sushi restaurant.

We used nori (seaweed) in the marinade to replicate the fishy taste. After watching Seaspiracy on Netflix we found ourselves inspired to develop some amazing seafood recipes for everyone to enjoy! I even brought some to work and let my coworkers try it, they couldn’t believe it was once a watermelon! As wild as this dish sounds, it’s actually rather simple to whip up. Be sure to prepare it well ahead of dinner time as it needs ample time to marinade in the fridge. We served ours overtop of some homemade yam avocado rolls! This “tuna” would also be a great addition to a poke bowl or a salad. We hope you try this vegan watermelon tuna recipe out and let us know what you think! We love hearing feedback from you guys and making people happy through food is what we are striving for.

In case you missed it, check out our other latest vegan seafood post – these fish tacos!


Recipe by plantbasedrelationshipCourse: Lunch/DinnerCuisine: Asian fusionDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time






  • 1 medium sized watermelon

  • 3 cloves garlic

  • 3 tbsp chilli garlic paste, hot sauce will also work

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce

  • 1/4 cup tahini

  • 3 tbsp miso paste

  • 3 tbsp avocado oil

  • 2 dried nori sheets

  • 2 tbsp sesame oil

  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds


  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with non stick parchment paper.
  • Peel your watermelon and slice into 2 inch thick steaks. We shaped ours into large rectangular cuts because it gives the appearance of a piece of tuna.
  • Place your watermelon steaks onto your baking sheet and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. This helps draw moisture out of the watermelon. We are trying to suck out water and replace it with our marinade.
  • Bake your melon steaks at 350 for 1 hour, flip half way.
  • While your melon steaks bake, Add your garlic, chilli paste, miso paste, soy sauce, avocado oil, tahini and nori sheets into a high powered blender. Blend until smooth. We found the aroma reminded us of a sushi restaurant!
  • Remove your steaks from the oven and place into a Tupperware dish that has a lid. Pour your marinade overtop of your melon steaks and use your hands to fully coat each piece. Be fairly gentle with your melon steaks, you’ll notice the texture changing the longer you cook it!
  • Marinade in the fridge with the lid closed for at least 4 hours. Trust us, its worth the wait.
  • Once your melon tuna is marinated, preheat a large non stick frying pan and add your sesame oil.
  • When your oil is hot, lay your melon steaks facedown and pan fry each side for roughly 8-10 minutes or until seared and golden brown.
  • Remove your melon steaks from the pan and let them rest on a plate lined with paper towel. This just helps drain any extra moisture released from the melon!
  • Use your sharpest knife to slice your melon steaks into thin strips and sprinkle with your sesame seeds. Serve on top of sushi rolls or in a poke bowl! We hope you enjoy.

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