Brighten Winter Up: Shrimp and Pomelo Rice Noodle Salad
I know what you are thinking. This chick posts soup recipes in the summer and salad recipes in the dead of winter, she crazy. First, take it easy. Second, this is my blog. I can pretty much do what I want.
So my dear controlling readers, it’s citrus season! Ah citrus, those little bright beacons of light in an otherwise dreary winter. I don’t like winter. I know there is a strange subset of you that insist that winter is awesome. You love boots or some crap. I don’t get it. I love only one thing about winter… citrus season.
I love all that is rich and stewy. But sometimes I need a break, especially after the holidays. Fresh, herbaceous Southeast Asian salads are the answer. They are spicy enough to get the chill out of your bones, but are also light and refreshing — you can almost taste spring. By the way, I said “light”, but you will still get a complete meal in. This will definitely feel like dinner. But, if you are worried I’m trying to starve you, just bulk it up with more shrimp, spinach, cashews, or rice noodles.
Pomelos are giant. Much bigger than grapefruits. And, no, you cannot use grapefruits as a substitute. Get thee to an Asian grocery store and they will for sure have it. I bet my pressure cooker. They have a wonderful floral citrus aroma, I’ve always wanted a pomelo scented perfume. (I often want to smell like food. A few months ago I was obsessed with scenting my body with the finest Sichuan peppercorns.) The taste is kinda like grapefruit, but without any sour bitterness. And it’s sweet like an orange, but not overly so. I recommend looking for one that is unblemished. It should smell wonderfully fragrant and seem kinda heavy.
The easiest way I’ve found to get to the fruit is to peel, and then remove as much pith as possible. Then split it open and cut each thick wedge membrane with a small pairing knife and pull out the fruit. Nothing will happen if you get some of the pith in your salad. Well, except a bitter tasting salad and the sting of disappointment that you will feel emanating from me.
Happy New Year everyone! (Even to you winter lovers.)
- 1/4 cup toasted unsweetened shredded coconut
- 4 oz of cooked small rice noodles
- 8 oz of spinach, steamed and drained of excess moisture
- 1 large pomelo, pith and membrane removed, broken into chunks
- large handful of roughly chopped cilantro
- 1/4 cup of torn mint leaves
- 1/2 cup unsalted cashews
- 1 tablespoon macadamia nut oil
- Assemble your marinade. Combine shrimp in a bowl with: grated garlic, shallots, chiles, fish sauce, and fresh black pepper. Stir to combine and cover and place in fridge. Allow to marinate for 15-20 minutes. Continue rest of recipe while shrimp marinates.
- Mix together dressing ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
- Prep components: Toast shredded coconut in a dry pan. Stir frequently to avoid burning. When ready, remove from pan to prevent further browning and set aside in a small dish. Cook rice noodles: Heat salted water in a pot big enough to make noodles. I like to use one that has a drainer insert and a steamer basket, so I can do the spinach at the same time. Once water comes to a boil, turn off heat and add rice noodles. Give it a quick stir and allow to soften in the hot water. Every 2 minutes stir and check the softness of the noodles. It should take about 6-7 minutes. The noodles will be soft, yet firm, al dente. Remove from water and immediately rinse with cold water. Set noodles aside. If you haven't already steamed your spinach, do so now. Drain well and squeeze with hands to remove excess moisture. Remove fruit from pomelo: peel entire fruit and remove as much pith as possible. Open fruit with hands (or knife) and remove wedges. Use a small pairing knife to cut wedge membranes and pull out fruit. Prep herbs.
- Heat skillet over high heat and add oil. Add shrimp in an even layer and allow to cook for 4 minutes undisturbed. Lower heat as needed. Flip the shrimp and cook an additional 1 minute. Remove pan from heat.
- In a large salad bowl, add noodles, spinach, shrimp, pomelo chunks, half the coconut, cashews, and herbs. Drizzle with the dressing and mix well. I like to sprinkle the salad with the rest of the coconut after it's been plated.
- Serve immediately or allow the flavors to permeate the noodles for a few hours in the fridge. If I don't plan on eating all of it right away, I save some of the cashews and add before serving so they stay crisp.