Sashimi with Watermelon “Margarita”

Recipe by Christopher Lee, consulting chef, Suite & Tender.

The thing about food that people don’t realize is that we’re all involved with it — either consciously or subconsciously because you have to survive. I decided, why not make it an art form and go a little crazy? Why not have fun with it? Insofar as where I am today, cooking is a matter of pride. Of creativity.

Basically, the way I got into it was a love of cooking. I had the bug when I was little and worked in kitchens all through my teenage years. Another reason I got into cooking was that my mom was a pretty bad cook and we kids had to fend for ourselves. One summer I worked for a catering company and a chef took me under his wing. He told me to go to culinary school, and I fell in love with the profession.

What I eat depends on the time of year. Spring, summer, and fall I grill out a lot and try to serve fresh salads. In the winter, my wife and I go out to friends’ homes or restaurants. I do a lot of high-end dining, but what I do isn’t necessarily what I want to eat. In the winter I like a lot of fresh pastas or comfort foods.

I don’t really like supermarkets, so I try to incorporate farm-fresh foods into my menus. I also am trying to limit gluttony, a trend started about 20 years ago that more is better. But I don’t agree with that. I downsize portions because it’s healthier. If people complain, I would ask, “Why would you want a 12-ounce steak? Why would you do that to your body?” I’d like to challenge people about that. I want people to leave my restaurant after an entrée and a dessert and still feel great about themselves, not stuffed.

I am happy as a restaurateur. I’ll call myself successful when I am both a restaurateur and an educator. I want to help the younger generation and give them a stage. I want to eliminate the failure factor for them and help them walk through a door as a powerful entity.

As chefs, we’re part of an industry that changes lives. Maybe not on a critical or health level, but we can change someone’s day. We can make people happy.


Serves 4


  • 1 pound boneless fillet of Australian yellowtail kingfish (substitute with tuna or hamachi)
  • 1/2 cucumber, cut into medium dice (1/2”x 1/2” x 1/2”)
  • 1 Tb. Togarashi seasoning
  • (or Seven Spice), optional
  • 1 one-inch slice of watermelon
  • 1 oz tequila
  • 1 oz triple sec
  • 1 oz lime juice
  • 1 cup filtered water, divided use
  • 1/2 jicama, peeled and cut into very fine julienne
  • 3 Tb. lemon juice, divided use
  • 2 sprigs basil (leave 1 sprig whole and slice 2 leaves)
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp yuzu juice (available in Japanese markets. If not available, substitute lemon juice)
  • 2 Tb. soy sauce, divided use
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 slice jalapeño
  • 1 pinch lemon zest
  • 2 Tb. extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 chives, sliced
  • 1 sprig parsley, minced


1) Slicing the fish: Cut into loin and trim the bloodline off. Then slice into 1/8-inch slices. If desired, season the fish with the Togarashi seasoning. Cut cucumber into small, 1/2-inch pieces.

2) Making the watermelon “margarita”: Cut a perfect rectangle out of the watermelon slice. Add the tequila, triple sec, lime juice, and two tablespoons of filtered water into a bowl and mix well. Place the watermelon into the bowl and marinate for 6 hours in a refrigerator. After 6 hours, remove watermelon from the bowl and cut into medium dice.

3) Jicama: Peel the jicama and cut it into very fine julienne. Combine the rest of the water, 2 Tb. lemon juice, and 1 sprig of basil into a small container and place the jicama into the container. Let marinate for at least 1 hour before using.

4) Yuzu yogurt: Mix the yogurt, yuzu juice, and 1 Tb. soy sauce well.

5) Dressing: Place the garlic, jalapeño, lemon zest, and 1 Tb. lemon juice in a mortar and start to mash with the pestle. When the ingredients are well mashed, add remaining 1 Tb. soy sauce, extra-virgin olive oil, chives, basil, and parsley. Mix well.

6) Plating: arrange the slices of fish onto 4 plates. Cover each piece of fish with the cucumber slices and watermelon “margarita.” Garnish each dish with the jicama, yuzu yogurt, and dressing.

NOTE: 1 oz = about 2 Tb.

Sashimi-grade fish can be purchased at Catalina Offshore Products, 5202 Lovelock Street, 619-297-9797.

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A steak is about 72% water. How in moderation could that be bad for you? Going to a place like Suite & Tender, which is fairly expensive and usually would be a special occaision type place for most San Diegians, you expect a large portion. Not only because of price but also because it's supposed to be a treat for youself. There is nothing worse than hefting out large bills for a dinner just to be hungry again a few hours later. I dissagree with you Chef.

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