This quick and easy watermelon and pomegranate salad recipe is the creation of Dylan Eitharong, a Thai-American chef living in Bangkok. For four years, Dylan ran a pop-up restaurant called Bangrak Thai Street Kitchen in his American hometown of Orlando. The restaurant served the type of dishes that Dylan missed most when he was away from Thailand and also helped diners to learn more about Thai food history and culture. Dylan recently moved to Bangkok where he continues the ethos of his former restaurant through his new project, Haawm (@haawmbkk) which offers in-person and online Thai cooking workshops from his home kitchen. Over to you, Dylan.
This is the kind of dish that will inevitably get me yelled at by my family or the Internet’s Thai food police. A product of my logical imagination (as far I know), this salad was created off the basis of market availability as well as a response to Thailand’s pretty much year-round hot weather, although I assume other versions exist in the Land of Smiles. Light and refreshing, salty and sour while being surprisingly not too sweet, this may not exist in Thai cookbooks on your shelf and yet it embodies much of what is loved in a Central Thai salad. You’ll also notice there are no chillies included, which is unusual for recipes I write, but it really doesn’t need them and serves as a reminder that despite international perception, not all Thai food is or must be spicy.
Watermelon and pomegranate salad recipe
Serves: 1-2 people as part of a Thai meal
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: Less than 5 minutes
Serve this right after assembling, as it begins to break down rather quickly, preferably with a rich curry like panang or massaman and jasmine rice.
Amounts are approximate and may be adjusted to taste:
- 1 cup small diced watermelon (no seeds)
- ½ cup pomegranate arils
- 1 small shallot, thinly sliced
- A small handful of picked young mint leaves
- Several picked young coriander leaves
- 1 tbsp dried shrimp, toasted slightly and pounded in a mortar and pestle to a fluffy powder
- 1 tbsp very thinly sliced (chiffonade) kaffir lime leaves
- Crispy fried shallots, either store bought or home-grown
- 1 ½ tbsp fish sauce
- 1 ½ tbsp fresh lime juice
- 2 tsp palm sugar
- Mix the fish sauce, lime juice, and palm sugar in a small bowl until the palm sugar has dissolved. Set aside.
- To a mixing bowl, add the watermelon, pomegranate, sliced shallot, lime leaves, some of the mint, and some of the dried shrimp powder.
- Mix gently, then add the dressing and mix until everything is coated. The watermelon will release some of its liquid as you do.
- Move to an appropriate plate and top with the coriander leaves, the remaining mint leaves, the remaining shrimp powder, and fried shallots, in that order.
- Serve right away, and don’t forget to take a photo because it’s very pretty.
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