Friends, the site was down late last week and into this week. My service provider, Typepad, suffered several security attacks. That was a first in my seven years of using their blogging platform. It's hard to fathom why someone would want to screw up blogs all over the world like that but it happens. Sorry that you didn't have regular access to VWK. Things came back online late Tuesday night, so here's the latest dispatch from my kitchen.
About a month ago, I bought a giant pomelo at our local farmer’s market. It’s always challenging for me because who knows how much actual flesh is inside. I’d tasted his samples and decided to buy one. “Pick a heavy one,” he advised. I must have spent 5 minutes picking through his bins before settling on one the size of a volleyball. I paid about five dollars.
Once home, I weighed the pomelo. It was about 3 pounds (1.5 kg)! Quite proud of my newly acquired pomelo selection skills, I planned to gift it to my mom when we visited during my husband’s spring break. I carefully packed the pomelo in the car, and drove close to 400 miles to my parent’s house. When I presented it to my mom, saying that it’s wonderfully sweet, farm grown, perfect for Vietnamese goi buoi pomelo salad. She demurred and said, “I can’t eat grapefruit because of the Lipitor I take.” Geeze, I didn’t consider the drug interactions when I bought “Big Boy.”
I turned to my sister, Tasha. You want it? “What am I going to do with it?” she asked. Tasha isn’t a super adventurous cook and despite my suggestion that she follow my recipe on VWK, she shook her head. Her son and husband were not into it. Plus, it looked like a lot of work to remove the grapefruit segments. That's the point of Viet goi special event salads, I responed but she didn't give in. Fine, I took the pomelo and set it near my purse so that I’d remember to take it home.
Back in Santa Cruz, the pomelo sat for a good week in our dining room before I cut into it to make pomelo salad. Unbeknownst to me, the three-pound pomelo yielded a heck of a lot of flesh. I made pomelo salad twice, the first time as a rendition of Thai pomelo salad recipe that Betsy Andrews of Saveur recently wrote about from New York chef Dale Talde. I got through half of the pomelo and kept the remainder covered with plastic wrap in the fridge, where it sat for over a week.
We ate the rest for Easter Sunday lunch in the form of a Vietnamese pomelo salad (goi buoi tom thit). There was leftover poached chicken from the Sichuan cold sesame noodle salad so my workload was cut down. These types of Viet salads have a fair amount of protein because they're considered luxe dishes for entertaining, parties, or holidays. We had it as main course with a little soup.
The hardest part of making an Asian pomelo salad is removing the segments. However, Big Boy gave me little trouble. The flesh peeled off the skin with ease and it even separated into discreet tear-drop pieces and chunks without much hassle from my fingertips. When it comes to selecting fruit, it pays to listen to the farmer.
There's a Thai version of pomelo salad too, but I'm not familiar with it. Are you?
Vietnamese Pomelo Salad
Goi Buoi Tom Thit
Yields: 2 as a main dish, 4 to 6 as a side dish
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 8 ounces (240 g) large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 4 ounces (120 g) boneless skinless chicken breast or boneless pork chop
- 1 medium pomelo, or 1/2 large pomelo
- 1 carrot, peeled and cut into fine shreds
- 1/4 cup mint leaves, chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, leafy tops only
- 1/4 cup chopped unsalted, roasted peanuts
- 2 tablespoons Crispy Caramelized Shallot (hanh phi, optional)
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 1/2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 small clove garlic, finely chopped and mashed, or put through a press
- 1 red Thai chile or 1/2 Fresno chile, chopped
1. Put the salt in a small saucepan and fill 2/3 with water. Bring to a boil and then add the shrimp. As soon as they've curled up, remove them with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool.
2. Return the water to a boil and add the chicken or pork chop. When bubbles form at the rim, turn off the heat, cover and let sit for 20 minutes to cook the flesh. Remove and set aside to cool. (If you're using the Vietnamese sausage, skip this step because it's already cooked.)
3. Cut the shrimp in the diagonal into large pieces that will blend well with the pomelo and other ingredients. Hand shred the chicken or cut the pork into julienne. Set aside.
4. If the pomelo is big, halve it lengthwise and save one half for another day. Cut off the ends of the pomelo, then cut off the skin and pith to reveal the pinkish flesh underneath. Pry the pomelo open and split into two parts. Use your fingers and as needed, a knife and scissors, to peel away the flesh from the skin. Work segment by segment, and separate the flesh into bite-size pieces. Deposit the flesh in a bowl as you work.
5. For the dressing, combine fish sauce, lime juice, water, sugar, garlic and chile in a small bowl. Stir to dissolve the sugar.
6. Right before serving, add the shrimp, chicken (or pork), carrot, mint, cilantro, peanuts and fried shallot to the pomelo. Toss with your fingers or tongs to combine well. Add the dressing and toss. Taste and adjust the flavors, as needed. Transfer to a plate or shallow bowl, leaving any liquid behind and serve.