Pomelo Salad is one of the most famous of all Thai salads, and a favorite among Thai food fans. Pomelo is a citrus fruit similar to grapefuit, but larger and tastes more like pink grapefruit than white. Smaller pomelos are grown in Mexico, varying in color from green to pink/coral (the larger Asian variety are also grown there). Note that grapefruit can easily be substituted for equally delicious results. This salad makes a terrific lunch, side salad, or even a beautiful starter to any Thai or Asian-style meal. You'll find it very unique and refreshing, and so will your guests.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Yield: SERVES 6(side dish)/2-3(main)
- 1 pomelo OR 2 pink grapefruit
- 12-16 medium shrimp, peeled
- 1 small to medium cucumber, diced
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots OR purple onion
- 1/4 cup fresh basil OR mint, chopped if leaves are large
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander leaves
- 1/4 cup dry-roasted unsalted cashews OR peanuts
- 2 Tbsp. shredded unsweetened coconut (baking type)
- optional: 1 red chili, minced
- optional: handful of salad greens for serving
- 1/3 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice
- 3 Tbsp. fish sauce
- 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 2 to 2.5 Tbsp. brown sugar, to taste
- 1-2 tsp. Thai chili sauce, OR 1/3 to 1/2 tsp. chili flakes
- Set a pot of water to boil on the stove. Add shrimp and boil just a few minutes, until shrimp turns pink and plump and firm to the touch. Drain and set aside to cool.
- Place shredded coconut in a dry frying pan or wok over medium-high heat and stir until coconut turns light golden brown and fragrant. Tip coconut into a small bowl to cool and set aside.
- Prepare your pomelo or grapefruit, removing as much of the white peel as possible from the fruit (for preparation tips, see How to Buy & Prepare Pomelo.) Note that color of the fruit will vary from white to pink, according to the type of pomelo you have purchased. Break the fruit into bite-size pieces. You may not want to use all of the pomelo - 3 to 4 cups is a good amount. The rest can be saved for eating fresh. Set prepared pomelo in a salad bowl.
- Add other salad ingredients to the bowl: cucumber, red pepper, shallots, basil/mint, coriander, and fresh chili (if using).
- Combine all dressing ingredients together in a cup, stirring well to dissolve the sugar.
- To put salad together: Add shrimp to the salad bowl, then pour over the dressing. Toss well to combine. Add most of the toasted coconut and nuts, reserving a little for garnishing, then toss again. Taste-test the salad for a balance of sweet/sour/spicy/salty. Adjust to your liking, adding more sugar can be added if too sour, or more lime juice if too sweet (if using grapefuit, you'll likely have to add a little more sugar, as pomelo is naturally sweeter than grapefruit). For more depth of flavor, add a little more fish sauce. Your salad is now ready to serve. If desired, prepare individual plates with a bed of greens and then top with generous portions of the pomelo salad. Top with reserved coconut and nuts, and ENJOY!
Like most Thai salad dressings, this is an oil-free dressing, so it doesn't appear to 'cling' as well as oil-based dressings, naturally collecting at the bottom of your salad bowl. This isn't a problem - just be sure to toss a little more than you would for a regular salad in order to saturate ingredients with the dressing. And note that this salad is best eaten right away - the fresher the better. If preparing for a party, keep the dressing apart from the salad until you're ready to eat, then toss them together just before serving.