Cucamelon recipes are a treat! Also known as Mexican Sour Gherkins, Mexican Miniature Watermelons, and Watermelon Cucumbers — they’re delicious marinated in Ponzu sauce with a bit of heat. A perfect refreshing, light and flavorful side or snack. The first time I laid eyes on these Cucamelons, I thought they were teeny-tiny watermelons. It’s no wonder some refer to them as Mexican Miniature Watermelons.
At first glance they’re super cute — and when you take a closer look, maybe even slice one in half, they’re truly exquisite.
What are Cucamelons?
- As I mentioned, they’re also referred to as Mexican Sour Gherkins, Mexican Miniature Watermelons and Watermelon Cucumbers.
- More or less the size of grapes, they’re in season in August and September, and are a considered a delicacy in central America and Mexico, where they are native.
- Even though it sounds like it, these cute fruits are not a hybrid of a watermelon and a cucumber. They are a fruit that grows on a vine called Melothria Scabra, and have been around for centuries.
- A more vibrant green inside than other cucumber varieties, and a wide range of green hues blended into soft stripes on the outside.
- Cucamelon recipes are quite healthy because these babies (pun intended) are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. And of course, they are low in calories, too.
What do Cucamelons/Mexican Sour Gherkins taste like?
- Despite the name, they are only a tiny bit sour — subtly lemony.
- They’re also a bit sweet, and have a fantastic crunch.
- More than anything though, they taste like a cucumber.
Where to buy them?
During their season (August and September) your best bet is at your local Farmers Markets, and maybe in the specialty section of the produce department.
You can also order cucamelon seeds from a variety of places including here.
These beautiful cuties make for an excellent snack, a superb crunch in a salad, divine pickled in a jar — and perfect marinated in Ponzu!
What is Ponzu sauce?
- Ponzu sauce is a Japanese citrus based sauce or marinade — it’s deliciously sweet, sour, salty, and bitter all at once.
- The ingredients in Ponzu sauce are typically: a citrus called Yuzu, rice wine vinegar, bonito flakes, and seaweed. (I used a few of these and lime juice instead of the Yuzu.)
Tips for Making Ponzu-Marinated Cucamelon Recipe
- You can use the ingredients in my recipe to make the Yuzu sauce, or you can purchase a prepared one.
- If lime isn’t your favorite, you can use lemon instead.
- I like this best after about 30 minutes of marinating time — however, it will still be delicious even the next day.
Update August 2019: This post was originally published in 2013, and has been updated with new images and information.
Ponzu-Marinated Cucamelon Recipe
- To make the Ponzu, in a small mixing bowl, combine the lime juice, soy sauce, vinegar, Mirin and salt. Set aside.
- Slice the Cucamelons in half, lengthwise, and add them to the bowl. Mix them to be sure they're all well coated, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let them marinate for at least 30 minutes, and up to an hour.
- Sprinkle with chili flakes when you're ready to serve.
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