Since moving to Asia, we picked up a cookbook in Singapore and made a few recipes out of it. This time we tried Grilled Sambal Salmon Steaks, which usually calls for stingray; instead we used salmon because it was available, and it came out great (stay tuned for the recipe next week). It was delicious next to a Thai pomelo salad and a Thai winged bean salad.
Thai Pomelo Salad
The Thai pomelo salad recipe came from one of our cookbooks, True Thai by Hong Thaimee.
Pomelo is similar to grapefruit, but larger and sweeter. The peel is thicker and softer, but dense with the sweet aroma of a citrus fruit. A pomelo section is lumpy, and though the membrane is dry, the segments are packed with juice. Thai varieties usually have light yellow-white flesh, while pale pink to almost ruby red is common. Delicious on their own, but when combined with the fresh aromas of kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass and the smoky crunch of toasted coconut, the flavor and textural sensations of this salad are like a party in your mouth.
For the Dressing:
- 4 dried red Thai chilies
- 2 Tablespoons coarsely chopped shallot
- 2 Tablespoons chopped garlic
- ¼ cup fish sauce
- ¼ cup palm sugar
- ¼ cup tamarind concentrate
For the Salad:
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 2 small shallots, thinly sliced into rounds
- 1 pomelo, peeled, segmented and cut into 1-inch pieces
- ½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted
- ½ cup coarsely chopped peanuts
- 4 kaffir lime leaves, cut into thin chiffonade, plus extra for garnish
- 2 stalks lemongrass, thinly sliced
To Make the Dressing:
Place the chilies in a bowl and add warm water to cover. Leave to soften for about 15 minutes. Wearing kitchen gloves (do not use bare hands when working with chilies), remove chilies from the water and squeeze out the excess water.
In a stone mortar, combine the chilies, shallot and garlic, and pound with a pestle into a smooth paste. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, combine the fish sauce, sugar and tamarind concentrate. Place over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Add the chili paste and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool.
To Make the Salad:
In a small skillet, heat the oil over low heat until just shimmering. Add the shallots and fry until golden brown and crisp. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the pomelo, coconut flakes, peanuts, fried shallots, kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass, and toss with the dressing and until well coated. Serve, garnished with additional karffir lime leaves if you like.
Chef’s Note: If you are looking for a substitute for peanuts, use cashews or increase the amount of coconut flakes.
Thai Wing Bean Salad
For the Salad:
- 2 cups wing beans (or green beans), about 2/3 lb.
- 1 cup minced pork, about 1/2 lb.
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 2 Tablespoons dried shrimp, chopped
- 2 Tablespoons shallots, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2-3 medium, dried chilies, seeded and chopped
- 2 Tablespoons roasted peanuts, chopped
- 1 Tablespoon lime juice
- 1 1/4 teaspoon palm sugar or brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- Canola or vegetable oil, frying
To Make the Salad:
- Rinse your beans and chop off both ends. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Set a pot of water to boil.
- While waiting, heat enough oil in a medium frying pan to cover the shallots and stir often until they’re golden, but not too brown. Remove shallots. Add dried shrimp to the pan and fry them until crispy. Remove and set aside.
- Add garlic and chilies and brown them. Remove from pan and cool.
- Once cool, pound half of your shallots, garlic and chilies into a semi-smooth paste.
- When your water is salted and boiling, blanch your winged beans for 20-30 seconds. Remove them and place them immediately in ice water to stop them from cooking. Reserve the water.
- Add your finely-minced pork to the water and cook for 5-7 minutes.
- In a saucepan, boil the coconut milk, take off heat and add sugar, chili/shallot paste, lime juice, fish sauce and peanuts. Mix well.
- Add dressing to winged beans and minced pork, toss and serve. Garnish with crispy dried shrimp and shallots.
These Thai salads are the perfect pairing for fish or even pizza! Come back next week for more Malaysian recipes and to learn how we cooked the Sambal Salmon steaks.
Mary Hathaway, owner of Dinner Diva, has been a personal chef since 2002. She cooks regularly for clients who have special dietary needs, value healthy cooking by using organic products where possible and those who want healthy family meals but have no time to cook. Whether it’s a dinner for 4, a holiday party for 20, or a set of meals for the week, all of the recipes are customized to her client’s needs or lifestyle. Go to Dinner-Diva.com for more info.