This pomelo salad, made with citrus such as grapefruit, fish sauce, peanuts, lime, sugar, coconut, and mint, is hot, sour, sweet, and salty.
Pomelos are big grapefruitlike fruits that are now becoming more available in North America. They’re about twice the size of a grapefruit and have a very thick skin. The fruit ranges from quite sour to pleasantly sweet. If you can’t find a pomelo, use a grapefruit. Because grapefruits are far juicier than pomelos, you’ll need to pour off any excess juice, otherwise the salad will be soggy. Be sure to adjust the seasonings to taste, as both pomelos and grapefruits have that wild range between sour and sweet.–Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid
LC Seasonal Affective Disorder Note
We have our own sort of seasonal affective disorder, and it haunts us—okay, mostly just Renee—not just in winter but six months later. Here’s the conundrum: Grapefruit are not exactly at their utmost come the dog days of summer. Yet that’s exactly when we find ourselves most wanting to luxuriate in their spectacular tartness. So we make do with lackluster specimens just for that shivery chill we get. And so we stumbled—happily—upon this little recipe, which allows us to exult in the citrus’s in-season exuberance come winter, yet also sorta glosses over any slight imperfections come the fairer season. There. We feel like Lucy in Peanuts with her “Psychiatric Help 5¢” stand. If only every clinical mood disorder was so easy to address.
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 2 to 3 limes)
- 1 tablespoon palm sugar (or substitute light brown sugar)
- 1 pomelo or 1 to 2 large grapefruit(s) any color or type (about 1 1/4 pounds total)
- 2 tablespoons grated coconut toasted
- 2 tablespoons dry-roasted peanuts coarsely chopped
- 1 to 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
- Handful mint leaves finely chopped or thinly sliced, or more to taste
- 2 to 3 bird chiles finely chopped (or substitute serranos)
- Bibb lettuce leaves washed and dried (optional)
- In a small bowl, combine the fish sauce, lime juice, and sugar, stirring vigorously to completely dissolve the sugar.
- Peel the pomelo or grapefruit and separate it into segments. Working over a bowl and using a small sharp knife, cut off the inside “seam” of each segment and then run your thumb between the membrane and the fruit to free it, letting any juice drip into the bowl rather than down your elbow. Place the fruit in the bowl and discard the membrane.
- Pour off any juice that has accumulated at the bottom of the bowl and reserve for another use. Add the coconut, peanuts, shallots, mint, and chiles to the segments and mix well. Pour the lime dressing over the mixture and mix well. Taste and, if you wish, adjust the balance of salt, sour, and sweet (that is to say, fish sauce, lime juice, and sugar). Serve immediately, on a bed of Bibb lettuce if desired.
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Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This pomelo salad was my first time making a dish with a pomelo. It wasn’t as tart or bitter as a grapefruit and was nicely balanced with the Thai flavors of sweet, salty, sour, and spice. The salad was great—slightly, sweetly citrusy. Bonus points for being healthy. This definitely goes into the regular recipe rotation.
What a great use for pomelos, which are something I almost never buy! This pomelo salad tastes complex with many layers due to the fish sauce, lime juice, palm sugar (I love this stuff!), coconut, peanuts, shallots, mint, and chiles. Talk about a perfect balance. I could practically drink the dressing from a glass, except it’d be kind of awkward with the peanuts and coconut. Although fish sauce is among my favorite condiments, I’d add a bit less next time as it can be somewhat overwhelming. I also added a touch more palm sugar. The peanuts added a salty crunch, the mint a crisp freshness, the chiles and shallots a bit of a kick, the lime some necessary acid, and the fish sauce…well, this lent it some fish sauciness. This salad announces itself loudly with zip and zing on the palate and makes you want to continue eating it because each mouthful is so intriguing. It’s a pretty salad, too. It makes my taste buds dance in delight!
I really love this pomelo salad recipe. I made this with orange segments because I cannot eat grapefruit, and instead of bird chiles I used Asian chile paste. The complex flavors of the dish—the heat, the acid, the brightness of the mint, and the fattiness of the peanuts—all worked together to make something that we couldn’t stop eating. I actually forced myself to save some of this so that I could see how it’d be the next day. The leftovers made it into a bowl. I put on the cover and put it into the refrigerator. I decided that I needed one more bite, so I took it out, ate one more bite, and then put it back into the refrigerator. I then decided that I needed one more bite. This continued until there was no salad left. I can’t wait to make this again.
Originally published February 05, 2013
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
This pomelo salad is surprisingly refreshing. The toasted coconut added a pleasant crunch, as did the peanuts. The pomelo is tart but not overly so, and the mint was pleasant. I didn’t bother to get any palm sugar so I used a light brown sugar. The dressing was a nice combination of sweet, tart, and salty. This’d be really pleasant in the summer, substituting grapefruit for pomelo when pomelo isn’t readily available. I’ll certainly make this again. Also, if the lettuce is stored separately from the salad, this does well stored in the refrigerator for a light lunch the next day.