The weather has been unfortunately gloomy here in LA lately, but July still means summer and summer means watermelons galore. Every time I go to pick out a watermelon, it reminds of a camp activity we played called “Big Watermelon” and how we counselors had to scramble to figure out how to say big watermelon (and the rest of the chant) in different languages. Sandía grande. Dà xīguā (大西瓜). Keun subag (큰 수박). Ookina suika (大きなスイカ). But I digress. This time, I was picking out an 大きなスイカ for a different purpose — soju watermelon.
We were planning for our July 4th barbecue when I saw a photo of it online — a gorgeous cocktail concoction of watermelon juice and soju served in its own shell. It’s like the Korean-influenced cousin of the vodka watermelon, and I knew we just had to try making it ourselves. It turned out to be very easy and intuitive. Just grab a watermelon that’s an appropriate size for your party (we got a “personal” mini watermelon that made enough for about 5-6 people), a bottle or two of moderate-to-cheap soju, a lemon, a blender, and some ice. Oh, and a knife to (carefully) hack open the melon.
1 seedless watermelon
1 bottle of soju (we used Chamisul Original)
The juice of one lemon
Step 1: Split the watermelon in half. Try to go right down the middle, otherwise you’ll end up with one “bowl” that will be more shallow than the other. OPTIONAL: if you are confident in your knife skills, you could also cut in a zig-zag pattern to yield a more interesting-looking vessel at the end.
Step 2: Scoop out the contents of each half. We did one half at a time. Fill up a blender. Pulse until smooth (but not too long or it will get frothy). You may need to push down with a spoon now and then to get the blades to catch.
Step 3: Pour the juices back into the shell and/or into a punch bowl to serve. We were surprised at the volume of juice the blending process yielded, so we had to transfer the leftovers to a large bowl. Also, our melon rinds were a bit too spherical so we placed them in a small bowl for extra support.
Step 4: Add ice, lemon juice, and soju to taste. We added one bottle’s worth to our mini watermelon and provided extra for anyone who wished to top off their drinks for a stronger kick. If your watermelon was bland or underripe, you may want to add sugar (or a simple syrup of dissolved sugar and water) to taste.
Step 5: Find a poolside or barbecue or karaoke bar and enjoy the refreshing taste of summer.
Soju (소주) is a Korean vodka typically distilled from rice. Jinro is the most popular manufacturer with many varieties in their product line. I prefer Chamisul Fresh if drinking soju neat but the more affordable Chamisul Original is fine for mixing, like with this delicious homemade agua fresca. The alcohol content is usually lower than that of vodka (around 20%), but it can still sneak up on you, so drink responsibly. Cheers!