I first tasted a Pomelo Salad during a visit to Manila a few years ago. I asked several culinary folks in Manila for the recipe but I never got the right recipe similar to what I enjoyed in various restaurants. So I went back to my home in America on a quest to find a good pomelo salad recipe. One day, my amazing food writer friend Nancie McDermott, prolific author, sent me two cookbooks: her Simply Vegetarian Thai Cooking and the Nong’s Thai Kitchen Cookbook by her friends Nongkran Daks and Alexandra Greeley. My search for this superb, refreshing citrus salad recipe ended right in these two cookbooks.
A pomelo looks and tastes like a larger, stouter grapefruit, but sweeter. In the Philippines, we call it suha (say ‘soo-ha’). This one I found at the Asian market had a light green, smooth outer skin and inside, the sugar-sweet, citrus segments were dark pink. My dad grew two varieties of pomelos or suha trees in our backyard. One suha tree had fruit which was yellow-skinned and had pink pulp bits. The other pomelo tree was abundant with green-skinned fruits which had light yellow segments. We had them all the time for merienda eaten with sea salt or simply enjoyed fresh as a dessert. The pomelos my dad planted and nurtured were so citrusy-sweet you’d think you were eating sugar.
Citrus fruits are abundant in the last months of the year. Though not a traditional food, I noticed we had pomelo often at my parents’ holiday table. The piercing limey and fragrant aroma of a pomelo was hard to resist once the fruit was peeled and sliced open. During Christmas my parents encouraged us to snack on pomelos from our backyard, more often than sugary baked sweets which tended to overpopulate our table.
In the cookbook, Nongkran Das calls this pomelo salad its Thai name Yum Som O and describes the pomelo as a citrus fruit native to Southeast Asia, usually available from October to February. Here in America, pomelos grown in Florida have yellow skins while those from California look greenish on the outside.
After the full Thanksgiving spread we just had and in anticipation of more holiday rich foods, this pomelo salad is a refreshing break. The plump pink globules of pomelo were a sweet addition to the rest of the salad ingredients: the succulent shrimps and the fresh, crisp vegetables. The pomelo’s clean, fragrant aroma dominated the kitchen while I plated the vegetables and mixed the dressing. I did a different variation from Nongkran’s dressing and made my own from the memory of what I enjoyed at several Manila restaurants. This particular salad dressing is distinctly known for its citrusy-salty and sweet flavors which blends well with the greens and shrimps. To the savory Filipino patis (fish sauce), I added lime and a dollop of Honey Ridge Farm’s Honey Creme Blood Orange, which was a gift from the brand’s owners.
Since I first made this Pomelo Salad with Shrimps, we have enjoyed this again and again as an appetizer or a side. My son makes this often for us when he’s home to visit. And best of all, my husband enjoys a heaping, tall serving of this fresh salad so much, he forgets it is meatless and devours the entire big bowl.
This Christmas Eve, as my family and I celebrate Noche Buena, our traditional Filipino midnight meal, I will make this light, luscious salad to even out the indulgence from the rich entrees. And if anyone asks for the recipe I will be more than glad to share it. After all that’s what the holidays and Christmas are all about – sharing, giving and it always has to start from within us.
Thai Pomelo Salad with Shrimps
- 1 Tablespoon patis fish sauce
- 1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1 Tablespoon Honey Ridge Farms Honey Creme Blood Orange or use regular-flavored organic honey
- 1 teaspoon Thai Chili Sauce bottled
- 1/3 cup ginger ale
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper powder
- 1/4 pound fresh shrimps blanched, peeled, tails removed large, about 8 pieces
- 1 whole fresh ripe pomelo peeled, sliced, pulp bits loosened, about 2 cups (or use fresh grapefruit)
- 3 to 4 cups fresh lettuce washed and shredded into bite-sized pieces
- 1 whole cucumber peeled, sliced
- 1 to 2 cups cherry tomatoes
- 1 whole red or green bell pepper seeded and sliced r
- 1/2 cup grated coconut meat fresh or frozen
- 1/2 cup chopped peanuts
- 1 to 2 stalks scallions sliced, for garnish
- 3 to 4 stalks fresh cilantro chopped, for garnish
- 1 can (8 to 12 oz.) ginger ale or 7Up soda to blanch the shrimps; or use Sprite soda
- Combine the dressing ingredients: Mix together in a glass jar the patis (fish sauce), lime juice, honey, chili sauce, ginger ale, salt and black pepper. Stir to incorporate. Close the jar with a lid and refrigerate till ready to use.
- To prepare the salad: Blanch the shrimps in a medium-sized stockpot over medium-high heat with a can of ginger ale or 7 Up (soda) for 2 to 3 minutes or till shrimps are cooked and turn pink. Drain liquid and set aside in the refrigerator.
- To open or peel a pomelo (suha): Using a sharp, small knife, make a slit or incision on the top of the fruit. Insert your finger in the slit and peel off the skin completely. The fruit will have a thin, white membrane all around. Hold the center of the fruit which has the divided sections. Pull apart to separate each section. Once you have individual sections, peel off the white membrane with your fingers. Remove the pink globules in bunches. Set aside.
- To assemble: In a large bowl, layer the vegetable and fruit ingredients: start with the lettuce leaves, then the cucumbers, tomatoes, red or green bell peppers, grated coconut, and shrimps. Sprinkle the top with peanuts and chopped scallions. Garnish with cilantro.
- Cover salad with plastic wrap and refrigerate till ready to serve.
- Serve chilled Pomelo Salad with the dressing on the side.
- Cook's comments: If pomelo is not available, use grapefruit. It will be less sweet than a pomelo.
- Disclosure: I was not paid to mention the brands or the cookbooks on this post. They were all gifts from the brand and the authors. I highly recommend these products and cookbooks for delicious Asian recipes.
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Notes on Nutrition: The nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.
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Hello, Friends! Please DO NOT LIFT OR PLAGIARIZE my original recipe, stories, photos or videos. All the images and content on this blog are COPYRIGHT PROTECTED and owned by my media company Besa-Quirino LLC. This means BY LAW you are NOT allowed to copy, scrape, lift, frame, plagiarize or use my photos, essays, stories and recipe content on your websites, books, films, television shows, videos, without my permission. If you wish to republish this recipe or content on media outlets mentioned above, please ASK MY PERMISSION, or re-write it in your own words and link back to my blog AsianInAmericaMag.com to give proper attribution. It is the legal thing to do. Thank you. Email me at [email protected]