Watermelon chips

John Barton

John Barton

30th July 2011

Watermelon chips

The joy of break­ing into a fresh bag of potato chips is uni­ver­sal. It’s hard to resist los­ing your­self to bite after bite of salty, crunchy fried starch. In most gro­cery stores, novel alter­na­tives such as beet, yam, and cas­sava chips have become com­mon­place. But until now, the com­mon denom­i­na­tor in all of these vari­a­tions has been a high starch content.
As the starchy main ingre­di­ent is deep-fried, the gela­tiniza­tion of the starch gives struc­ture and crunch to the result­ing chips. However, that same inher­ently high starch con­tent pro­duces a much less excit­ing side effect — namely, all of these chips tend to taste bland before sea­son­ing. Sweet, tart, and nat­u­rally moist veg­e­ta­tion tends to burn, shrink, or fall apart when deep-fried naked. But what if you were able to impart the struc­tural advan­tages of high starch con­tent to plant foods that pos­sess zip­pier fla­vor pro­files? Can chips made from less starchy plants be sta­bi­lized enough to with­stand the deep-frying process? If so, which plants yield the best results?
To see how far we could take this premise, we tested a vari­ety of fruits and veg­eta­bles with typ­i­cally high water con­tents. Ultimately, we found that water­melon pro­duced the most strik­ing results. The method we chose to impreg­nate the starch into the water­melon is the same tech­nique used in many Modernist kitchens to impreg­nate or con­cen­trate intense fla­vors: vac­uum compression.

Ingredients

  • We started by slic­ing water­melon to a thick­ness of about one mil­lime­ter using a meat slicer. Then we brushed on a slurry made of starch and water, vac­uum sealed the slices, and let them rest for about 30 minutes.
  • After the water­melon slices were given suf­fi­cient time to be impreg­nated with the starch, they were pat­ted dry and deep-fried.
  • The result was amaz­ing: A light, crispy chip loaded with the con­cen­trated fla­vor of watermelon. Apple, jalapeño, and dill pickle were some of the other suc­cess­ful results we achieved with this method.

Method

What would you like to see made into a chip? Leave a com­ment