Melon with Lime-Chile Syrup

juice and zest from two limes
1 jalapeño pepper (and/or red hot pepper, for color)
4 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons water
1 ripe melon, about three pounds

For the syrup
Zest the limes then cut them in half and squeeze all the juice out. You should have roughly 4 tablespoons. Cut the pepper in half lengthwise and roughly chop one half, leaving in the seeds and rib. With the other half, scrape out the seeds and rib and add them to the rough chopped pepper and chop the remaining flesh in to an even, fine dice. Try to be as neat as possible, as this dice will be used for garnish later.

Combine the juice, sugar, water and the rough chopped jalapeno plus extra seeds and ribs in a small sauce pan and heat gently over low heat, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved, about one or two minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely. Strain the syrup and discard solids. If there’s time, refrigerate the syrup to cool it even further.

Just before serving, slice melon into thick wedges. Gently scrape out the seeds and place wedges on individual plates. Drizzle with the cool syrup and garnish with the finely chopped jalapeno and lime zest. Serve on a plate with a spoon. Optional garnish: finely chopped mint or basil.

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