Vietnamese crab and pomelo salad
- May 2015
- Serves 4 as a light meal, 6 as a starter
- Hands-on time 30 min
This Vietnamese salad recipe is light, crunchy, packed with bold Asian flavours and sure to be a hit at your next gathering.
- 12.2g (1.7g saturated)
- 19.2g (12.3g sugars)
For 6 servings
- 1 red onion, sliced very finely
- 2 pomelos (see Know-how)
- 300g white crabmeat (see our how-to video below)
- 2 bunches fresh Thai basil (see Know-how), roughly chopped
- 1 large bunch fresh mint, roughly chopped
- 1 large bunch fresh coriander, roughly chopped
- 2 handfuls salted peanuts, roughly chopped
For the dressing
- 80ml fish sauce
- 80ml Chinese rice vinegar
- 2 rounded tbsp caster sugar
- 1-2 bird’s eye chillies, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- Juice 3 limes
For the crispy shallots
- 2 banana shallots, sliced
- 3 tbsp plain flour, seasoned
- Around 300ml sunflower oil for frying
- For the crispy shallots (see Make Ahead), toss the shallots with the flour, working the flour in with your hands to get a good coating. Heat the oil in a small frying pan and line a plate with plenty of kitchen paper. Once the oil starts to shimmer, drop in a piece of onion. It should sizzle enthusiastically – if it doesn’t, keep heating the oil until it does. Drop in half the shallots and fry for 1-2 minutes until lightly golden brown (if they get dark too quickly, turn down the heat). Remove with a slotted spoon onto the paper-lined plate, then repeat with the rest of the shallots. Set aside.
- Put the red onion slices in a large mixing bowl. To make the dressing, put the fish sauce, rice vinegar and sugar in a small pan and heat gently to melt the sugar, giving it a stir now and then. It will smell very strong as it heats but don’t worry. Once the sugar has melted, take the pan off the heat and stir through the chilli, garlic and the juice of 1 lime. Pour half the mixture over the onions and leave them for 10 minutes.
- Using a sharp serrated knife, slice the tops and bottoms off the pomelos. Sit the pomelos upright and peel them by slicing off strips of skin, cutting vertically down the side. You want to remove as much pith as possible but leave all the flesh. Once you’ve got rid of the outer pith, slice into the segments and remove them whole, getting out as much flesh as you can (it’s easiest to follow the segment lines of the fruit and cut just inside them). Roughly chop the chunks and add to the onions. Discard the centre and any pith.
- Stir the crabmeat, herbs and peanuts through the salad. Let everything sit together for a minute or so, then taste – it should be a perfect combination of salty, sour, sweet and hot. It may need an extra squeeze of lime juice, so add it as you see fit. Tip the salad into a serving bowl, toss through some of the crispy shallots and sprinkle the rest on top, then serve immediately.
Make the crispy shallots in advance, cool completely and keep in an airtight container for up to 6 hours.
Pomelos are large, round citrus fruit with a thick green skin, yellow/green/ pink flesh and lots of spongy pith. They’re less bitter than grapefruit and have a firmer texture. Find them in greengrocers and selected large supermarkets from February to June, often wrapped in netting and plastic. If you can’t find any, use ruby grapefruit and add 1-2 extra pinches of sugar to the dressing. You’ll need 3 grapefruit to replace 2 pomelos. Find Thai basil in Asian grocers or large supermarkets. If you can’t find any, either use extra mint and coriander, or add regular basil. It will taste a little different, but still great.
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