A pomelo looks somewhat like a grapefruit, with plumper, drier pulp inside. If you can find pomelos, choose one the way you would a grapefruit: select one that feels heavy for its size. Cherry juice concentrate, a good substitute for tamarind, is available in most health-foods stores. When selecting a coconut, shake it to make sure that it’s full of juice.
Make the dressing:
Heat the oven to 350°F. Put the dried chiles, shallots, and garlic on separate sheets of foil, drizzle each with a little vegetable oil, and wrap each into a separate packet. Roast the three packets on a baking sheet until the contents of each is soft and golden: the chiles should take about 15 minutes, the garlic about 25 minutes, and the shallots about 35 minutes. When the chiles and shallots are cool enough to handle, chop each coarsely. Put them in a small food processor or mortar and pestle along with the roasted garlic, bonito flakes or smoked fish, palm or brown sugar, fish sauce, and tamarind juice or cherry juice concentrate. Blend or pound until smooth.
Prepare the coconut:
If you’re using fresh coconut, bake the whole coconut at 375°F for about 15 minutes. Set it aside to cool. Put the coconut on a hard surface; hit it hard with a hammer to split it in half, taking care to catch the juice, which you can save for drinking. With a sharp, thick knife, carefully dislodge the meat from the husk; wear a kitchen mitt to protect your hands. Peel the hard, dark, outer layer off the white meat. Cut the coconut flesh into small chunks; pulse in a food processor into small flakes. Toast the flakes in a nonstick skillet over medium heat until lightly golden, stirring frequently to prevent burning; let cool. Set aside 1/4 cup for the recipe and store the rest of the coconut flakes in a sealed jar; they’ll keep for several weeks.
Prepare the salad:
In a small skillet over high heat, heat the vegetable oil and add the sliced shallots and salt, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Fry the shallots until crisped and golden, about 2 minutes; drain them on paper towels. Arrange the pomelo sections on a serving platter; top with the cooked shrimp. Toss gently with the dressing, taking care not to bruise the fruit. Garnish with 1/4 cup toasted coconut flakes, the roasted peanuts, fried shallots, fresh chiles, and lime leaves or zest. Just before serving, mix gently. Serve with the rice.
nutrition information (per serving):
sat fat g
Photo: Amy Albert