Dish No. 30: Watermelon Pickle and Crispy Pork Salad at Fatty Crab
Today's pick: Watermelon pickle and crispy pork salad ($16) at Fatty Crab (643 Hudson Street, 212-352-3592; 2170 Broadway, 212-496-2722)
Sure, there are a lot of watermelon salads floating around these days, matching the bright red flesh with all sorts of incongruities. But Fatty Crab's was one of the first, and remains the best. The big red cubes are only lightly pickled, so they still taste sweet, while the little cubes of rind are more aggressively brined. The pork belly occurs in big generous rectangles, caramelized around the edges, salty and unctuous. On top are shredded aromatics and sesame seeds, which give the salad a jolly appearance.
But there is an unforgettable stealth ingredient -- Vietnamese mint. You can see a little leaf of it at the bottom of the photo. This smallness belies a big, big pungency, which is located somewhere between tar and cinnamon, tastewise. One bite and you'll never forget it.
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