TikTok’s ‘watermelon katsu’ looks just like seared tuna— but does it actually taste good?

Watermelon katsu may be the talk of TikTok, but at In The Know, we’re just not so sure about it.

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Social media has a tendency to feed into its own hype, and sometimes that can distort our expectations. Last summer, TikToker Lisa Kitahara got over 11 million views for her watermelon katsu, which looked just like ahi tuna katsu. It spawned numerous copycat recipes and became a certified trend.

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However, when In The Know producer Poppy Shen gave the viral vegan snack a try, it didn’t exactly knock her socks off.


  • Watermelon

  • Soy sauce

  • Mirin

  • Molasses

  • Panko bread crumbs

  • Flour

  • Salt

Step 1: Cut a slab of watermelon. Sprinkle salt on it. Then pat it with a paper towel to soak up excess water.

Step 2: Combine soy sauce, mirin and molasses in a bowl to create your marinade.

Step 3: Marinate the watermelon in the mixture. Next, panfry the watermelon steak over medium heat until the edges are crisp.

Step 4: Mix flour and water on a plate to start your crust. Coat the watermelon in the flour paste. Then cover it in panko bread crumbs.

Step 5: Place the watermelon in an air fryer at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes.

“This is by far the craziest vegan recipe I have ever tried. It definitely looks like tuna,” Poppy said.

But after taking one bite, she was cringing and slightly gagging.

“It does not taste like seared tuna at all. It’s actually kind of weird,” Poppy said. “I just don’t know why you would turn watermelon into meat-like fried katsu. It’s just not really working.”

She admitted that maybe if she didn’t know it was watermelon, she might feel differently, but it was just not what she expected. The dish might be best suited for those who like a fruity, smokey, savory flavor in their meals.

“It just doesn’t feel right. I probably would never make this again,” Poppy said. “I’m not a fan.”

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