This mouthwatering Thai Grapefruit Salad succeeds in harmonizing sweet, hot, bitter, and sour flavors to simultaneously excite the tastebuds!
This salad is traditionally made with pomelo, a large citrus with dry, pink or white-colored flesh and a sweet-tart flavor. I started making this salad using grapefruit because pomelos can often be difficult to find out of season and are often priced at a premium (I saw them for $5 a piece the other day…) Grapefruit has a different taste but I think it works well in this recipe because of its sweetness and slight bitterness.
If you can find pomelos, definitely use them. But if not, grapefruits are a wonderful stand-in. Just be sure to prepare them by peeling the rind, snapping into segments, and removing all the membranes of the flesh by hand. The supreming method of peeling citrus and separating the segments by knife is not recommended here because it breaks up the fruit and releases too much of the juices.
Thai pomelo salad, known as yam som o, often includes shrimp but in Thailand you can find shrimp-free versions. The problem, however, is that dining at a non vegetarian/vegan restaurant in Thailand means that most dishes, even salads, will include a splash of fish sauce. I had yam som o at a vegetarian restaurant in Bangkok many years ago and the flavors were so memorable that I started making it at home after I returned. For the fish sauce, I use my recipe for Vegan Fish Sauce. It can be made at home in 25 minutes with ingredients found in nearly every Asian market! It works very well in the dressing for this salad as well as in curries, stir-fries, and dipping sauces.
- 2½ cups of peeled and segmented grapefruit (around 2 or 3 grapefruits)
- 1 cup shredded carrot
- 1 cup thinly sliced cucumber
- 2 small tomatoes, sliced into thin wedges
- 1 small chile, thinly sliced
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced and fried*
- 3 Tablespoons fresh shredded coconut (or 2 Tablespoons dried, unsweetened coconut)
- 1 cup cilantro leaves and tender stems, roughly torn
- 1 cup mint, roughly torn
- ½ cup finely chopped roasted peanuts
- 2 Tablespoons vegan fish sauce
- 2 Tablespoons lime juice
- ¼ teaspoon lime zest
- 2 teaspoons palm sugar (or brown sugar or regular sugar)
- 1 teaspoon sriracha (Thai hot pepper sauce)
- pinch of sea salt
- After peeling, segmenting, and removing the flesh from the grapefruits, put them into a large bowl. Add the carrot, cucumber, tomato, chile, fried shallot, coconut, cilantro, and mint.
- Make the dressing by whisking together the vegan fish sauce, lime juice, zest, sugar, sriracha, and salt in a small bowl. When the sugar is dissolved, pour this over the grapefruit and veggies.
- Toss to combine thoroughly, trying not to break up the pieces of grapefruit too much. Taste for seasoning and adjust the salt if necessary. Pour the salad out onto a serving plate and garnish with the chopped peanuts on top. (You can also just toss the peanuts in with the veggies)
- Like all Thai salads, this should be served immediately after tossing in the dressing for the best flavor and texture.
-I used a combination of white and pink grapefruit---use whatever variety you like.
-Thai basil is a great addition or substitution in this recipe (if you're not crazy about the cilantro or mint).
-A splash of coconut milk (2 Tablespoons) in the dressing adds another layer of complexity.
-Chopped roasted cashews can be a good substitute for the peanuts.