This beautiful salad recipe features a wonderful combination of flavours, colours and textures that satisfies your craving for sweet, sour, spicy and salty. Spicy Thai Grapefruit Salad with Shrimp is simple to make and can be personalized to meet your heat tolerance level.
I have my mom to thank for this recipe. I’m not sure where she got it but it’s a winner for sure! In the flavour department, the healthy department, the pretty department and the interesting department. You can serve this as a first course or a main dish by simply modifying the size of the salad and the amount of shrimp.
Feel free to use any type of lettuce. Some people love the soft mixed greens, others prefer the crunch of a denser lettuce like romaine. A perfect salad is all about variety and ingredients you love. If you don’t like it too spicy, reduce the amount of hot pepper in the dressing.
Shrimp is the star of this salad. The best choice of course is fresh local shrimp but if you live in the great white north like me, the options are not bad really. Grocery stores are now carrying a variety of frozen shrimp in various sizes, raw or cooked, peeled or unpeeled. You can spend all day researching sustainable shrimp and don’t even get me started on the difference between shrimp and prawns. Is there? Or is it just regional language? You decide. Anyway, choose a package of shrimp that makes you happy. Don’t want to bother cooking them? Buy pre cooked. Curious to cook your own? Like me? Buy them raw then steam them. Or boil. Or grill. It’s your salad, remember?
Sorry people with seafood allergies. But you could grill some chicken and it would be a not bad second place.
Speaking of second place, after the shrimp, the next best part of this salad is the garnish. Cashews and coconut go hand in hand when you think of Thai food. Toasting them in a dry pan gives them a little extra flavour boost and crunch. Toss them in a dry pan over medium-low heat and keep an eye on them. Shake/toss the pan occasionally. I was lucky enough to find shaved unsweetened coconut but regular shredded is fine. Unsweetened. The other stuff is too sweet.
Once they’ve browned slightly, dump them out, then use the same pan to caramelize your onion strips. This will save you washing 2 pans and you might even pick up a little flavour left behind. Cut the onion really thin and let it toast slowly until it’s dark and crispy. Drain on a paper towel for maximum crispiness.
Don’t peel the grapefruit. You don’t want any of the pith which is the white part inside the peel because it can be bitter. Instead, cut the fruit in half, then slices, then cut along the peel and chop into chunks. Deep pink grapefruit look best in Spicy Thai Grapefruit Salad.
The dressing is not as thick as a typical vinaigrette. Choose a hot red pepper and carefully mince it into very small pieces. Use a little or a lot. But use some, it really works with this salad. I like to pour some of the dressing over the shrimp before adding them to the salad, then dressing the salad again after adding the shrimp. Corn syrup may not be something you have in your pantry. Honey makes a great substitute for the dressing. But, corn syrup lasts forever and if you buy some you can make Chicago Mix Popcorn.
When all your ingredients are ready, assemble the salad and serve right away.
Here’s the recipe:
Spicy Thai Grapefruit Salad with Shrimp
- 12 large or jumbo cooked shrimp allow approximately 3 for appetizer salad, 6 for meal salad
- 1 pink grapefruit
- 2 Tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes or shredded coconut
- ½ cup unsalted cashews
- ½ cup very thinly sliced onion
- 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
- lettuce or mixed greens
- 2 Tbsp corn syrup or honey
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp lime juice fresh is best
- 1 tsp finely diced hot pepper use less if desired
- salt and pepper
- If using raw shrimp, cook according to package directions and chill. Peel if necessary.
- Toast coconut and cashews in dry pan over medium-low heat until lightly browned and fragrant. Remove from pan.
- In same pan, add oil. Finely slice onion and add to pan, cooking over medium-low heat until well caramelized, about 15 minutes.
- Slice grapefruit into bite sized sections.
- Prepare dressing by combining all ingredients.
- Assemble salad by arranging lettuce in centre of each plate and topping with grapefruit and garnish. Drizzle some dressing over shrimp, then add to salad. Drizzle additional dressing over top.