POMELO AND THAI HERBS SALAD
THE EXPERIENCE IS BETWEEN EATING A SALAD AND DRINKING A COLD GLASS OF GATORADE
I don’t eat salads.
I think that’s quite self-evident on this blog. But even a non-salader like me feels a tinge of excitements as pomelo season approaches, the citrus giant with enormous and voluptuous pulps that burst with sweet, floral and faintly bitter juices resembling a lemony grapefruit. For the record, I’m not a fan of grapefruit, which is why I’m not particularly excited about pomelo’s potential as a stand-alone fruit course. But what gets my buzz going is its potential to be a fantastic savory treat.
Pomelo is rarely too sweet, and it carries an uniquely floral and bitter note that blends wonderfully with other more robust or rich-tasting ingredients that seek a refreshing medium. Take herbs salad for example, flavorfully too sharp and aggressive most of the times to be a dish on its own, but together with pomelo, it becomes a juicy and rounded symphony tapping on all the right notes in a cascading, orchestrated tempo. First thing that hits the senses is the pungent saltiness of the fish sauce and shallots anointed with olive oil, which escalates along the individually distinctive sharp bites from the assorted fresh herbs, too sharp, almost, if it isn’t immediately awash with sweet and quenching juices with the rupture of each pomelo pulps. The experience is a marriage between eating a salad and drinking a cold glass of gatorade.
A refreshing and guilt-free lunch on an overheated autumn day, but I know that it cries to be an equal partner alongside heavy and rich pre-winter dishes like roast pork belly or braised short ribs. And next year, you’ll be counting the days for its arrival.
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 1/2 tsp pomelo zest
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
- A couple turns of black pepper
- 1 1/2 heaping cup pomelo, hand-torn into small pieces
- 1 small handful fresh mint leaves
- 1 small handful fresh Thai basil leaves
- 2 small shallots, thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp fresh cilantro leaves
- 1~2 small red chilis, finely diced
- 1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Combine fish sauce, pomelo zest, lemon juice, sugar and ground black pepper in a bowl, and let sit while you peel the pomelo.
- There is a few ways to peel pomelo, but here is one that keeps the pulps completely unbroken and intact as they should be. Score the pomelo skin in a cross shape all around, then peel the skin away, then gently break the pomelo in half like breaking an orange. You'll notice that each segments of flesh are encased inside thick membranes. Insert your knife right between the membrane and the flesh (without breaking the flesh), and score it open like opening a letter with a letter opener. then peel the membrane away to expose the flesh. Now you can peel way the flesh in large chunks. Repeat this process until you've got all the flesh out.
- Hand-torn the pomelo into bite-size pieces, then set inside a large bowl along with fresh mint, Thai basil, thinly sliced shallots, cilantro and red chilis. Add the olive oil (I like to coat the salad with olive oil first because I feel that it prevents the salad from wilting too fast), and toss to coat evenly. Now add the dressing (You MAY NOT need all of the dressing, so add 1 tsp at a time and taste as you go), and toss to combine. Serve immediately, which is fantastic as a refreshing side dish to heavier meat courses.