The problem with having eyes bigger than my stomach is that I have a lot of leftovers.
After Chinese New Year, for example, there are cookies and snacks to deal with and bak kwa and Chinese sausages to use up. The sausages are terrific in fried rice, especially the liver kind; and I love bak kwa in a sandwich with butter and thin slices of tart green apple.
Mandarin oranges can be put to good use in cakes that call for whole oranges to be boiled until soft and whizzed up with other ingredients in a food processor. Just Google "whole orange cake".
But the leftover I have been eyeing longingly is the big pomelo on my fruit platter. I had bought it at a market a couple of days before Chinese New Year and it has just been sitting there calling my name.
Pomelos are a symbol of abundance, prosperity, good health and family unity - all the good things we wish for in any new year.
But I cannot resist any kind of citrus fruit and have had to wait patiently for Chinese New Year to end before cutting it up. And my, what a fine specimen it is.
I remember my mother's words when trying to figure out which one to buy. "Choose one that is heavy for its size," she would say and that advice has never failed me yet when it comes to picking fruit.
My pomelo yields 1.1kg of juicy sacs. I promptly devour half, but managed to salvage the rest to make a simple Thai-style salad.
It is full of perky flavours to revive jaded palates dulled by rich Chinese New Year food and provide cool relief for the hot spell Singapore is experiencing.
The recipe does not require much cooking and the prep work can be done ahead of time.
Taking the pomelo apart, for instance, can be done a day or two ahead. I do it while watching television. Removing the pith and membrane covering the juice sacs takes some time, so it is better not to hurry the process.
Broken up into chunks, they can be stored in a covered container and refrigerated for one or two days.
I have picked prawns as the protein for the salad, but squid and other seafood would do as well.
To make the salad interesting, I add crunchy carrot and cucumber and use coriander and mint leaves like I would salad greens. I leave the coriander whole and I tear the mint roughly to release the fragrant oils.
Toasting desiccated coconut sounds like a bit of a bother, but the nutty flavour and texture are great in the salad.
Of course, there must be roasted peanuts. The flavour goes beautifully with fish sauce, lime juice and coriander and the added crunch cannot hurt.
When all the ingredients are prepped, it is a simple matter of tossing them together with the salad dressing. That comes together easily too. Use large limes and depending on how juicy they are, you might need just two or as many as six.
Palm sugar has a caramel quality I like in the dressing, but use caster sugar by all means. Just make sure it is completely dissolved or you might get crunchy sugar crystals in the salad.
The beauty of this salad is that it makes creative use of something you probably have in your home post-Chinese New Year and using that pomelo in a different way is just the thing to mark a new year.
For the salad:
- 1 medium pomelo
- 1 medium purple onion
- 3 Tbs unsweetened desiccated coconut
- 500g medium-sized prawns
- 1.5 litres of water
- 1 Tbs salt
- 1 small carrot
- 1 Japanese cucumber
- 5-6 sprigs fresh coriander
- 5-6 spring mint
- 75g roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
For the dressing:
- 4 Tbs lime juice
- 1 Tbs palm sugar
- 2 tsp fish sauce
1. Peel the skin off the pomelo, remove the pith and membranes surrounding the juice sacs. Be sure to pick off all the pith and membranes or they will make the salad bitter. Discard the seeds. Separate the flesh into chunks and place in a large mixing bowl. You should have 400g to 500g of pomelo flesh. You can do this a day before, storing the flesh in a covered container in the fridge.
2. Peel and thinly slice the onion and soak in iced water while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. This will take away the sharp, strong flavour while retaining the onion’s crunch.
3. Spoon the desiccated coconut into a small saucepan and place over low heat. Toast until it turns a light golden brown. Watch the pan like a hawk as the coconut browns very quickly. Set aside.
4. Wash and shell the prawns, leaving the shell at the tail end intact. Devein the prawns. Bring 1.5 litres of water to boil in a saucepan and add the salt. When it comes to the boil, add the prawns and turn off the heat. Stir the prawns around the pot. They should cook in 30 to 45 seconds. Drain and set aside.
5. If you have peeled the pomelo ahead of time, take it out of the fridge and place in a large mixing bowl. Peel the carrot, slice on the diagonal and then cut into matchstick strips. Add to the mixing bowl. Cut the cucumber into quarters lengthwise, slice off the seeds and slice thinly on the diagonal. Add to the mixing bowl. Add prawns to the mixing bowl.
6. Drain the onion slices and squeeze out as much water as possible. You can do this with paper towels or wrap the onion slices in a clean tea towel and wring them dry. Add to the bowl.
7. Pick the coriander leaves off the stem and add them to the bowl. Discard the stems or use them in Thai recipes. Pick the mint leaves off the stem and tear them up before adding into the bowl.
8. Make the dressing: Whisk the lime juice, palm sugar and fish sauce together until the palm sugar melts. Have a taste of the dressing and add more sugar or fish sauce if needed. If you do not have palm sugar, use caster sugar to taste.
9. Sprinkle 2 Tbs of the toasted coconut and 2/3 of the peanuts into the salad. Add the dressing and toss well to mix.
10. Spoon onto a large platter or into a salad bowl, sprinkle over the remaining toasted coconut and peanuts. Serve immediately.
Serves six to eight
Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.
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