When I first had a pomelo salad while visiting Manila, nobody wanted to share the recipe with me. I enjoyed it so much that I asked my host, family and friends for the recipe. Everyone averted their eyes and “pretended” not to know the recipe. This always happens to me. When a recipe is so good and I ask for it, some people are afraid to share the recipe. What they fail to understand is that I love the dish so much, I want to make my family enjoy it, too and thus I try learn it. So as an alternative, I did a google search when I came back to my home in the US and found a way to do it. I have been making a pomelo-vegetable salad ever since in my American kitchen.
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 bright yellow, smooth outer skin and inside, the sugar-sweet, citrus segments were dark pink. My late dad grew pomelos or suha in our backyard. We had them all the time for merienda or dessert. The variety dad planted had a lime green outer skin and did look like a giant lime. The insides were light yellow with plump pulp bits that were so 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 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.
Nowadays, when I prepare a Noche Buena feast on Christmas Eve, I try to balance the meal with vegetables and salad greens. This pomelo-vegetable salad is always an excellent addition. Its fresh, tropical, light flavors appeal to everyone. The freshly boiled shrimps are a savory contrast to the leafy greens, crisp cucumber slices, peppers and sweet pomelo segments. The dressing is a savory-spicy blend made from patis (fish sauce) and spicy seasonings which caress the vegetables gently at first, but later give a zesty kick to the side dish. Sprinkle some salted peanuts just before serving and the combined Asian aromas are sure to tantalize everyone.
Just before Thanksgiving, during a family reunion, my son whipped up a shrimp and pomelo-vegetable salad. It was immensely enjoyable, so much so, that I nearly forgot to take a photo of the salad bowl, as you can see here. I had to act quick to take these pictures … the salad was going pretty fast.
This Christmas Eve, as my family and I celebrate Noche Buena, our traditional Filipino midnight meal, I will make this untraditional salad to even out the indulgence from the rich entrees we all enjoy. 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.
This shrimp-pomelo salad has recipe origins from Vietnam and Thailand. But it has found its way to the Philippines, where the pomelo or 'suha' can be obtained easily, especially in the southern parts. The star ingredient in this salad is the pomelo fruit. A pomelo is also known as suha (in the Philippines). It slightly resembles a grapefruit, so you can substitute that in case a pomelo is not found. It is best to use fresh, ‘catch of the day’ shrimps for this recipe and boil them as soon as you get home from the market. My son made this salad with spinach leaves one day, and he repeated the salad the next day, using lettuce leaves. Feel free to use the greens and vegetables you prefer. This is an AsianInAmericamag salad recipe and was put together by Constante G. Quirino. Serves 2 to 4 as an appetizer or side.
- fish sauce or 'patis' - 2 Tablespoons, from Asian markets, for dressing
- lime juice - from 1 piece, about 1 and 1/2 Tablespoon, for dresing
- honey - 2 teaspoons, for dressing
- ginger ale - 1 (8 oz.) can, for dressing
- sriracha sauce - 1 to 2 teaspoons, for dressing
- salt - 1 teaspoon, for dressing
- freshly ground black pepper powder - 1 teaspoon, for dressing
- fresh shrimps - 1 pound, large (about 18 pc.) peeled, deveined, tails intact
- water - 1 cup, to boil the shrimps
- salt - 1 teaspoon, to boil the shrimps
- black pepper powder - 1/2 teaspoon, to boil the shrimps
- red onion - 1 small, sliced
- cucumber - 1 medium, peeled, seeded, sliced
- red bell pepper - 1 medium, sliced, seeded, white membrane removed
- fresh pomelo (or use grapefruit) - 1 whole, peeled, sliced, segments must be seeded, white membrane removed
- fresh spinach - 2 cups, washed, stems trimmed
- fresh lettuce - 2 cups, washed, shredded
- green onions or scallions - 1/2 cup, chopped, for garnish (optional)
- salted peanuts - 1/2 cup, for garnish
- Prepare the salad dressing: in a small bowl mix together the fish sauce, honey, lime juice, sriracha sauce, ginger ale, salt and black pepper powder. Place the dressing in a small mason jar and shake vigorously. Keep refrigerated and set aside.
- Pre-boil the fresh shrimps over medium high heat in a small stock pot filled with water and some salt and black pepper powder. Let the water boil, then lower heat to a simmer and cook the shrimps for about 7 to 8 minutes or till they turn pink thoroughly. Transfer cooked shrimps into a colander to drain the liquids. Set aside.
- In a large salad bowl, mix together the greens, pomelo segments (white membrane removed) and other vegetables. Add the shrimps and gently toss the salad, leaving a few shrimps for the top as garnish.
- Just a few minutes before family or guests start dinner, add about 1/3 cup of the dressing to the salad and shrimps. Toss salad well till dressing coats the ingredients. Sprinkle with scallions and salted peanuts on top. Serve chilled as a side or even as a meal in itself.
- Cook's comments: coat the salad greens with just enough dressing to flavor it. Try not to drench salad in the liquid. If there's any leftover dressing in the jar, keep refrigerated for the next salad.
- Ingredient tip: a pomelo is an Asian grapefruit. I buy mine from Asian markets here in the USA. If none are available, use a regular grapefruit, in segments for this recipe. A pomelo will yield about one cup of citrus pulp segments once peeled, sliced, seeded and the white membrane is removed.
- Thanks for reading my entry to this month's "Let's Lunch" a virtual potluck event of food writers and bloggers from around the world. This month's theme is 'untraditional foods for a traditional holiday .' For more recipes check out Twitter using the hashtag #LetsLunch or pin with us on our Pinterest boards. Here's a round up of the other "Let's Lunch" food writers with links to their blogs:
- Cheryl's 'Malay Ayam Masal Merah at Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan
Lisa’s duck confit (I so want this!) at Monday Morning Cooking Club
Betty-Ann’s shrimp and pomelo vegetable salad at Asian in America
Jill’s green bean casserole at Eating my Words
Sonia’s barbecued spiced pomegranate rabbit at Foodnutzz
Annabelle’s rosemary whole-wheat shortbread at Glass of Fancy
Linda’s turkey spring rolls at Spicebox Travels
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