Cambodian Pomelo or Grapefruit Salad

I’ve been lucky enough to live in a lot of great places out here in Honolulu.  I’ve lived in a shiny and beautiful new house, a cute rustic cottage in the rainy and lush valley, and across from the beach (and my favorite surf break!) in an apartment with amazing ocean and sunset views.  And I’m even luckier that many of these places have had fruit trees on the property… there’s been starfruit trees, banana trees, avocado trees and, my personal favorite, mango trees.

But there’s always been one tree that I’ve never been all that excited about… the pomelo tree (or jabong as we call it out here).  The rind is thick and difficult to peel and the membrane around the segments are tough and bitter.  And once you get to the flesh, it’s not even very juicy.  I always thought of it as a large, inferior grapefruit.  When landlords would bring one by, I had to feign excitement and appreciation.  It’s really too bad that I didn’t find out about this salad until now… I would have been a much more enthusiastic recipient.

Peeled pomelo segments are combined with shallots, hot chiles, and mint, covered in a sweet and tangy lime dressing and topped with crunchy and golden peanuts and coconut.  Since I no longer live in a place with a pomelo tree,  I had to substitute grapefruit.  It gets the job done just fine, but since it’s juicier you have to be careful to drain any excess liquid… otherwise it’ll water down the dressing.  If you like Thai mango or green papaya salads, I think you’ll really like this one.


Cambodian Pomelo or Grapefruit Salad

Yield: 4 servings


* 3 large grapefruit or 1 to 1-1/2 pomelo
* 1-1/2 Tablespoons fish sauce
* 3 Tablespoons lime juice
* 1 Tablespoon palm sugar (can substitute brown or white sugar)
* 3 Tablespoons dried, unsweetened coconut
* 3 Tablespoons chopped, raw, shelled peanuts
* 1 small shallot, minced
* 2/3 cup chopped mint
* 1 small red hot chile pepper
* greens for serving (optional)


Peel the grapefruit or pomelo and remove each segment from its outer membrane. Place in a large bowl and set aside.

Ina small bowl, combine the fish sauce with the lime juice and sugar and stir to dissolve the sugar completely. Set aside.

Warm a skillet over medium-high heat and add the chopped peanuts. Cook, stirring constantly, until the peanuts begin to brown. Add the coconut and continue to cook until the coconut has turned golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside.

Just before serving, pour off any accumulated citrus juice at the bottom of the bowl and combine the grapefruit or pomelo segments with the shallots, mint and chile and toss to mix.

Line a shallow serving bowl or dish with lettuce and pour the grapefruit/pomelo mixture on top. Drizzle with the lime dressing and then sprinkle with the peanuts and coconut.

Adapted from several sources, most notably Hot Sour Salty Sweet

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2 Responses to “Cambodian Pomelo or Grapefruit Salad”

  1. #
    Ali — October 13, 2011 at 7:29 am

    I've never even heard of it before, Looks delicious. the grapefruit certainly gives a whole new taste to the salad dish. Lovely photo.


  2. #
    CATE — October 14, 2011 at 5:08 am

    Thanks Ali :)


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