Spring has finally sprung, serving as our seasonal indicator that it’s time to switch from those comforting winter dishes to lighter, more figure friendly fare.
Here in South Florida, it may come as no surprise that citrus plays a large role in our springtime cuisine. Many of our citrus fruits are sourced locally so when I came across this recipe for Thai Pomelo Salad (Dtam Som Oo) in the March 2014 issue of Saveur Magazine, it peaked my interest since it incorporated the delicious and exotic pomelo. Also known as shaddock, pummelo, Chinese grapefruit, or lusho fruit, the pomelo is native to Southeast Asia and is the largest known citrus fruit. It is a principal ancestor of the grapefruit and over the years, was introduced to North America where it is now grown in many states including Texas, California, Arizona and Florida. The large fruit (pictured bottom right) tastes like a milder version of a grapefruit, which is slightly sweeter and not quite as acidic.
I wanted to make this recipe for dinner so I added a chicken breast that I pounded flat, seasoned with salt and pepper and grilled and then plated the chicken with the salad on top of it. The dressing is incredibly flavorful and gives this lighter dish plenty of delicious flavor and personality. In the event you are unable to locate a pomelo or if they are out of season, a ruby red grapefruit will work equally as well. Also, slicing a citrus fruit into “supremes” can take a little practice and involves separating the fruit into segments by removing the bitter peel, pith and membranes. For a video on how to perform this culinary technique from Iron Chef Michael Symon, please click here. I do recommend using a very sharp knife to supreme your citrus and once you complete that part of the prep, making the dressing and assembling the salad is a breeze!
To pair with the Thai Chicken and Pomelo Salad, I served the 2012 Château Pesquié Terrasses Blanc ($16) a blend of 70% Viognier, 15% Roussanne, and 15% Clairette grown in the limestone soils of France’s Southern Rhone Valley. This wine is delightfully fresh, floral and fruity with a bright acidity, notes of honeysuckle, white peach and pear with a mineral-tinged finish. Winemakers Alexandre and Frédéric Chaudière fermented the wine entirely in stainless steel and concrete vats to preserve its fresh fruit aromas and flavors which complement the flavors of the dish beautifully!
Thai Chicken & Pomelo Salad
1/4 cup Thai fish sauce
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1-2 Pomelos depending on size (2 grapefruit), peeled and supremed
2 fresh red Thai chiles
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 cup trimmed watercress
1/3 cup roughly chopped peanuts, lightly toasted
20 fresh mint leaves
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin
Drizzle chicken breasts on both sides with olive oil and then season with salt and pepper. Preheat a grill pan or outdoor grill to medium-high heat and lightly brush grates with olive oil. Cook the chicken breasts approximately 3-4 minutes per side until done and set aside. Whisk fish sauce, sugar, lime juice, chiles, garlic, and 1/4 cup water in a bowl and set aside. Plate chicken and top with the watercress. Scatter pomelo or grapefruit sections over the salad, spoon on the dressing and top with the chopped peanuts and mint leaves. Serves 4