When I lived in Cambodia, I had a good housekeeper. I sort of ‘inherited’ her from a friend who returned to Manila and I was glad to have her because she was a better cook than my former housekeeper. It was also easy for me to teach her how to cook Filipino food, although after learning from me, she would another ingredient on her own, which made the dish a bit different. Case in point: she would add a leaf or two of sweet basil to ‘Pork Sinigang‘, which imparted a sweetish taste to the broth. Strange, yes, but not entirely bad.
One of the best things that she used to make was pomelo salad. I’ve tasted the Thai version of this salad as well and they are a bit similar. Today I decided to make it, from the way I remember it.
- Pomelo (I used two packs of prepared pomelo, roughly equivalent to the flesh of one pomelo), pulled apart into about 1 inch chunks
- 200 grams of chicken breast fillet*, cooked in water and pulled apart when cool)
- 1/2 cup carrot, chopped into fine matchsticks
- 12 basil leaves, sliced thinly
- 1/2 cup peanuts, roasted and crushed coarsely (store bought peanut is okay; just shake off the excess salt)
- 1/4 cup hot water
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup lime juice (roughly juice of 2 pieces of dayap**)
- 1/4 cup fish sauce
- 3 tbsp carrot, grated
- chopped siling labuyo, to taste (optional)
- * In place of chicken, you can use pork belly (boiled & sliced thinly), prawns (shelled & poached), or tofu (cubed & fried crisp)
- ** In place of dayap, you can use the juice of about 10 pieces of calamansi, NOT lemon please
- To prepare the dressing, dissolve sugar in hot water before adding the lime juice and fish sauce. Stir in the carrot and chili (if using). Right before serving, you can add 1-2 tablespoons of the crushed peanuts.
- In a big mixing bowl, put the pomelo, chicken, carrot, and basil leaves. Add 3 tbsp of the dressing, just to get them wet. Toss lightly. Add another couple tablespoons of the dressing then toss lightly again. Taste the flavor and check the bottom of the bowl if there is a small pool of dressing there. If the pool is big then you’ve added too much dressing.
- Spoon to a plate, draining the excess liquid. Put the remaining dressing in a small bowl. Put the peanuts in another small bowl. As each individual is served, they can add more dressing as they wish and top the salad with the peanuts.
- The dressing can also be used as a dipping sauce for the salad’s accompanying dish, which is usually grilled/ fried fish or meats.
My former housekeeper usually accompanied this salad with grilled lemongrass pork ribs (recipe to follow) but this salad was also perfect with fried galunggong.