Are these melon scrapers (shredders?) uniquely Filipino kitchen tools? Perhaps not. Several readers who live in the West have emailed to ask where they can order this melon scraper and complaining that no one seems to carry it â€œabroad.â€ First of all, what is it? The melon scraper is a simple tool designed to scrape the curved insides of a small melon, cantaloupe, honey dew or similar fruit. Thin pieces of stainless steel or tin are twisted and anchored in a handle so that they cut through the soft melon and create long strips of melon for desserts or drinks. They are particularly useful for making cantaloupe strips that are used in a refreshing cantaloupe juice during the hot summer months.
A box or plane shredder or mandoline do not achieve the same type of melon strips and are far messier and or dangerous to use with soft slippery melon slices. While I have always had a melon scraper in our kitchens from childhood until midlife, I never assumed it was a native invention. After some miniscule research, it seems that some other Asian countries have a similar tool so I am not sure if they got it from us or if we got it from them. Melon drinks are common in Thailand, Indonesia and other neighbors. In the photo above, there are two scrapersâ€¦ the sturdier looking one with metal â€œbladesâ€ anchored in wood is from Thailand while the flimsier looking all steel version is from a local Manila market. The Thai scraper cost PHP70 and is available from Cookâ€™s Exchange stores in Mega Mall and Rockwell Mall. The local scrapers in the market range from PHP40 and up. If you live in the U.S., I would check out a local Asian food and cooking equipment store as they may carry a similar tool. Perhaps a mail order Thai goods store may have it as well. Your final optionâ€¦ask a relative in Manila to buy one for you and send it the next time someone goes to the U.S.
To use, slice a melon in half or fourths and apply the tool in a firm but fluid manner along the curvature of the fruit. Make your melon strips as long or short as you like. If you want a really refreshing dessert that is just a notch above a slice of melonâ€¦ take a quarter melon, scrape it into strips, flavor with some lemon and sugar (if desired), a touch of melon liquer (optional), and chill well. Serve with some mint. It is really refreshing and light.