Japanese Style Vegan Faux Fish (100% Watermelon)

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A filet of watermelon in the shape of salmon filet, oven baked to taste and look like fish.
A slice of watermelon on a fork, baked in the oven to look and taste like fish.
A piece of faux fish held in the air by a fork.

Japanese Style Vegan Faux Fish (100% Watermelon)

This faux fish is an excellent replacement for raw tuna fish in asian – specifically Japanese – recipes. It takes a little while to make, but it’s well worth the effort!


  • 400 gram watermelon (about 1/3 of a small watermelon)
  • 1 tablespoon kelp powder
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon white miso paste
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
  • 1/2 cup hot water

For Basting:

  • Roughly 1/2 cup water


  1. Cut the watermelon into the shape of your liking, I went for the common shape of a salmon filet but a tuna steak might be more fitting as it resembles the color, texture, and taste of raw tuna more. I recommend keeping it whole, rather than cutting it into small, bite-sized cubes (which you can always do afterward) in order to retain its shape when baking in the oven.
  2. Combine all the ingredients except for the watermelon to create a marinade, this can be done in a shallow dish or zip-lock bag. The marinade will be quite thick so you can use your hands to make sure that the watermelon is fully covered. Add in the watermelon and transfer to the fridge to marinate for at least 12-24 hours.
  3. Once all the flavors have been absorbed by the watermelon, transfer to an ovenproof bowl or dish and bake in the oven for about 1 hour at 180° C (this may vary depending on how you’ve cut your ‘fish’. Keep your eye on it as it bakes and add a bit of water every time it gets dry. The fish should be semi-submerged in the diluted marinade. I used 1/2 a cup of added water.
  4. Once the fish has finished baking, take it out of the oven and leave to cool. Once cool, wash off any excess marinade or burnt bits, and voilà your fish is ready to eat! It can be used as-is, or cut into smaller pieces to use in ‘tuna’ sushi or ‘tuna’ tartare. Enjoy!


Use this faux fish recipe in this ‘Tuna’ Avocado Tartare!

Japanese Style Vegan Faux Fish (100% Watermelon)
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