The intriguing flavors of Thai cuisine are some of my favorite. I enjoyed dining at Thai restaurants when I lived in Pittsburgh. While hosting a Thai student who was attending Marshall University, I learned more about this unique cuisine.
I was fortunate to be able to visit my student in Bangkok for the culinary adventure of a lifetime. I sampled exotic regional delicacies, visited floating markets, strolled through farmers markets and bought food from sidewalk vendors. I was impressed at the Thai ability to make delicious dishes from the simplest ingredients.
Thai cooks are masters at blending various ingredients to achieve subtle nuances of taste. They can also carve fruits and vegetables into edible works of art to garnish even the plainest dish.
I recently found a Thai grapefruit salad recipe that I thought would be the perfect accompaniment to a spicy shrimp dish. I had two pink grapefruits plus the other ingredients on hand.
The recipe is probably a modern adaptation of a pomelo salad. Pomelos are big, lumpy, thick-skinned citrus fruit and are similar to grapefruit. They are popular in Asia, but not so easy to find here. Pink grapefruit are a good substitute for pomelo, when they are not available.
Thai Grapefruit Salad is a blend of sweet, sour and salty flavors. Fish sauce is a key ingredient. When tasted alone, fish sauce can be a little funky, but, when used as a seasoning in small quantities, it will elevate this citrus salad to new heights.
As mentioned in other columns, the quality of the fish sauce will ensure better results. The Red Boat brand is one of the best, and can now be found in several local shops.
Since trying this recipe, I’ve found others that include shallots or purple onion, chilies or red chili flakes, cilantro and/or mint and roasted peanuts.
The simple version of the salad that I am offering can be used as a base for experimentation. The colors, textures and flavors of this dish will transfer you to Thailand without ever leaving home.
Thai Grapefruit Salad
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons coconut
Peel the grapefruit and section. Place lime juice, fish sauce, and sugar in a bowl and mix until sugar dissolves. Add coconut and stir until blended. Pour sauce over grapefruit and toss to coat thoroughly. Transfer to a serving bowl.