Chef Gerardo Gonzalez’s recipe for sandia loca (a.k.a. crazy watermelon) forgoes mass-produced chamoy sauce and Tajin powder for homemade versions that deliver the same sweet-tart pucker and salty spice, using more wholesome ingredients. Gonzalez encourages improvising the fruit salad with different kinds of melon, pineapple, papaya, even stone fruit—whatever’s good.
- Add the dried fruit and ginger to a pot with the water and hibiscus tea. Bring to boil, then lower to a simmer. Cook until softened. Add vinegar and citrus juices, reduce until incorporated and fruit begins to fall apart. Remove the ginger, add the remaining ingredients, and blend with an immersion blender. (Sugar should be added just for balance—this is a sour plum sauce.) Strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Keeps refrigerated for months. Makes a quart and a half.
- Combine ingredients.
- Slice the stem end of the watermelon so it can sit flat. Halve the watermelon, the short way if it’s oblong. Scoop the fruit carefully out of the half that has a flat end with a spoon and cut into cubes. Cut the fruit from the other half of the watermelon into bars. Cut up the remaining fruit and vegetables into chunks, spears and batons and pile back into the hollow half shell. Get creative. Make cups out of the cucumbers, make floral designs in the mangoes, etc. Dress with a liberal amount of hot sauce, chamoy, Mexican spice blend, and candied peanuts.