Whenever I start to think I have the faintest idea about how to cook Thai food, I come across a recipe that effectively shatters all of my previously-held notions. This pomelo salad is one of those recipes.
For the longest time, I thought that Thai salads were all made with the “traditional” dressing of fish sauce, lime juice, and chili peppers. Sure, there was a little bit of wiggle room in this dressing. Say, for instance, if you wanted to add some sugar to round things out a bit, that would be fine. You could even add a little water to dilute the dressing if you were making your salad for palates that aren’t accustomed to such bold flavors. That’d be okay too.
Then the boyfriend’s dad introduced me to a spicy Thai shrimp salad whose dressing is composed of these core ingredients plus roasted chili paste. And I thought, “Every rule has an exception, right? I can be okay with this.”
But now I’ve come across this pomelo salad recipe and it‘s got me questioning my fundamental notions about Thai salad dressings. The dressing for this salad is composed of the core ingredients, plus roasted chili paste, plus coconut milk. I know this might not seem like much of a difference, but it throws out my idea that there is only one “traditional” way to make Thai salad dressings. And it’s got me wondering how many other types of Thai salad dressings there are that I’m not aware of…
Highlighting the limitations of my Thai cooking knowledge aside, this pomelo salad is truly wonderful. It’s a delicious combination of vibrant pomelo, plump shrimp, freshly roasted peanuts and coconut flakes, and deep-fried garlic and shallots. All of this is tossed together with the creamy coconut milk-based dressing to produce a really stunning salad.
Dare I say this is now my new favorite Thai salad?