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Thai Pomelo Salad (Yam Som-O)

Pomelo Salad
Pomelo Salad pictures (1 of 3)

I adore Thai cuisine and am always in search of great Thai cooking blogs. She Simmers is a fabulous resource for Thai cooking with many Thai recipes, including Thai pantry. Authored by the talented Leela, She Simmers is a gem—authentic and easy-to-follow Thai recipes, gorgeous food photography, and beautiful food writing and story-telling. I am a big fan of She Simmers. Please welcome Leela to Rasa Malaysia as she shares her family’s Thai Pomelo Salad or Yam Som-O recipe with us.

For a long time, I could never figure out why I got into the habit of saving up what I considered to be very special recipes in my draft folder, adamantly refusing to publish them for reasons even I failed to grasp.  Then Bee invited me to write a guest post for Rasa Malaysia, and it became clear why I, like a squirrel hoarding acorns for winter,  had saved up those precious few recipes. It is indeed for an occasion like this.

Yam (rhymes with “some”) Som-O or pomelo salad is one of those things which my mother and her sisters loved to make when they visited each other. My two aunts and Mom had this stone soup-esque tradition of taking turns hosting a get-together. Along with the children in tow, the guests would bring 2-3 components of a dish and cook them in the kitchen of the host. Pomelo salad is one of those dishes which my cousins and I grew up eating quite a bit of at these gatherings organized by our moms. Naturally, even though there are a few variations of this salad out there, I’m partial to our family’s recipe.

Outside the home, pomelo salad is served mostly, if not only, at sit-down type of restaurants; it is not a common street food like Pad Thai or Som Tam. And though hugely popular in Thailand, pomelo salad is rarely found on the menus of Thai restaurants outside of the kingdom. This is all the more reason to learn how to make this unique and delicious salad at home, I think.

Pomelo salad, like most traditional Thai salads, needs to be consumed immediately after it’s tossed. That is when the flavor rises to a crescendo before it steadily and rapidly declines. The salad does not keep well and it certainly cannot be refrigerated and reheated without being utterly annihilated. It also tastes best when the individual components are prepared just before they are tossed together.

Did I just talk you out of making this salad? Are you now thinking why on earth we are talking about a salad whose main ingredient, pomelo, is hard to find and the number of whose components so daunting? Well, take heart. For one thing, if you have not noticed, pomelo has started to show up everywhere nowadays. For another thing, please believe me when I say that pomelo salad is really not as difficult to make as it may seem. Once all of the individual components are prepared, it’s just a matter of tossing everything together and consuming the fruit of your labor blissfully. And if you, like me, are motivated by the promise of bliss, then let’s fasten our aprons and get cooking, shall we?

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23 COMMENTS... read them below or add one

  1. Oooh I love pomelo. See, I guess it’s just that they’re more popular here, but I seem to have little trouble finding them! They’re relatively popular this time of year in the groceries. This salad sounds amazing.

  2. Tuty @Scentofspice

    Hi Leela,
    What a beautiful and refreshing salad! It has all the components that I truly can enjoy.
    Thank you for sharing the recipe and great photographs.

  3. The first time I had Yam Som-O was at People’s Palace Thai restaurant in Manila, Philippines, about 2 years ago. After reading Leela’s explanation of this wonderful dish and how it is relatively uncommon in other places, I consider myself quite fortunate! I was so taken by this dish that I attempted to recreate it back home (Minnesota); unfortunately, good pomelos are just as rare. 8-/

    I will continue my search for this fruit and hope to try this recipe!

  4. This should be a most appetizing treat, to perk the tastebuds before the mains. Love how the Thais do their salad, with extra punch from all the tangy/spicy ingredients.

  5. Danielle

    I have recently started seeing Pomelos in our market and had absolutely no clue what to do with one. This recipe is way up my alley. Thank you for sharing one of your treasured recipes with us. This salad is just plain gorgeous!

  6. Bee – Thanks for the letting me wreak havoc on your site. :)

    Judy – This recipe makes 4 generous servings.

    Tangled Noodle – Pomelos have started to pop up in Italian and Hispanic stores where I live. The variety sold at my local Korean store has yellow flesh whereas the kind found at Italian and Hispanic stores has this beautiful dark pink color. Both varieties taste the same, by the way.

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