Authentic Thai Pomelo Salad Recipe (Yum Som-O)

Enjoy a tropical blend of sweet, tangy, and spicy with delicious citrus fruit and fiery chili paste.

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Blue/white bowl with Thai pomelo salad topped with strips of kaffir lime leaves, chopped red chili peppers, and toasted coconut flakes on a banana leaf. The distance shows a pomelo fruit peel and several ingredients scattered around.

This authentic Thai Pomelo Salad Recipe (Yum Som-O) makes a refreshing and light dish. It’s like a bowl of pure sunshine with tangy and sweet fruit chunks and a delightful dressing of fresh lime juice, palm sugar, and spicy chili paste.

Thai woman presenting blue/white bowl with Thai pomelo salad. The background shows banana trees and rice fields.

Also try my other Thai fruit salads: Thai mango salad, som tam pla ra, som tum Thai, and rice vermicelli papaya salad.

What is Thai pomelo salad

This classic Thai salad, also known as “yum som-o” in Thailand, features pomelo as its star ingredient.

In my quest to learn more about this dish, I found out that this fruit salad withstood the test of time. In Thai language, we say it is “ahaan boran”, which translates to “ancient food” or “traditional food” in English. These kinds of dishes have been prepared and consumed for generations.

Thai salad with pomelo topped with peanuts, coconut flakes, kaffir lime leaves, and other garnishes on a banana leaf.

This healthy meal has not only withstood the test of time, but it also screams authentic Thai flavors – a Thai pomelo salad dressing has the perfect balance of spiciness, saltiness, sweetness, and umami.

You can choose to serve it as a side-dish to complement other Thai food, or simply enjoy it on its own as a hearty breakfast, a light lunch, or a healthy dinner.

Close-up of Thai fruit salad made with pomelo, chilies, fried shallots and garlic, and more.

I puzzled this recipe together with my grandmother. What I like best about it is the dry-roasted peanuts and roasted coconut, which brings extra texture, and delicious coconut flavor with a nutty aroma.

We’ve also included fried garlic and fried shallots. This addition truly sets our recipe apart from others, and I assure you, you won’t be disappointed!

What is pomelo fruit

Pomelo is a large citrus fruit commonly found in tropical regions like Southeast Asia.

Hand holding a pomelo fruit on wooden background.

We’re fortunate enough to have a large pomelo tree not far from my mother’s place. The fruits it produces aren’t the most flavorful, but we’re still very excited whenever it’s pomelo season!

Their size, thick peel, and sweet and tangy flavor is what pomelo fruit is known for. The flesh can be pale yellow to pink, our pomelo tree yields green/yellowish fruits with yellow flesh.

The flavor of this citrus fruit should be refreshing, mildly sweet and tangy. Unlike grapefruit, which is also bitter and sour.

Like most fruits, pomelos has impressive health benefits. It’s a rich source of essential vitamins and minerals, so this vegetarian salad can be enjoyed guilt-free!

Tip: If you can’t get your hands on a pomelo, you can substitute it with grapefruit. However, grapefruit is more tart and less sweet. You’ll have to add a bit of extra palm sugar to make up for the sweet taste of pomelo. Start with a teaspoon and taste the dish as you go, adding more if needed, but don’t make it overly sweet. Remember, Thai food is all about balancing flavors.

How to tell if a pomelo is ripe

I typically avoid purchasing fruits from supermarkets, but since I couldn’t find them at food markets, I had no other option. Regrettably, the first one I bought had a bitter taste.

To help you avoid purchasing a bitter pomelo, I did some research to find tips on how to choose a sweet pomelo:

  • Choose a pomelo that feels heavy for its size, this indicates juiciness.
  • The skin should be clear without soft spots.
  • The color should be consistent and vibrant.

The pomelo fruit was too green when I bought it, indicating it wasn’t fully ripe yet when picked.

How to peel pomelo fruit

To eat the fruit, you have to peel away the thick skin. While not difficult, it can be a bit tricky if you’ve never done it before.

  • 1: Cut off the top of your pomelo fruit.
  • 2&3: Cut the skin from the top to the bottom all around the fruit, following its shape. Make these cuts about 4 cm (1.50 inches) apart, going all the way around.
  • 4: Use your fingers to peel the skin downward. Take off the tough outer skin and leave the light white part on the fruit.
4 Instructional images for peeling a pomelo fruit.
  • 5: Then, remove the white skin from the fruit.
  • 6: Carefully separate the fruit into sections using your hands.
  • 7&8: Use a knife to take off the white inner peel from each fruit section. Then, open it up to see the fruit inside.
4 Instructional images for opening up a pomelo.

Why try this recipe

  • If you’re on the search for something refreshing, light, yet still fulfilling, this Thai pomelo salad recipe has got you covered. It’s ideal for warm summer days, but can be enjoyed year round.
  • Unlike Western salads, which are often focused on one or two flavors, Thai salads create a fusion of sweet, salty, sour, and often spicy tastes.
  • If you’re a fan of Asian cuisine, you probably have most ingredients in your kitchen pantry. Fresh pomelo can be readily found in North America, with February being an optimal time. In some regions, pomelos may be available year-round, but in others they might be more seasonal. If you can’t find one, you can sub with grapefruit, or search in Asian grocery stores.
  • This Asian salad recipe is easily adjustable. If you’re in the mood for a spicy meal, garnish with red chili flakes or add more fresh chili peppers. For a sweeter taste, add more palm sugar. You can experiment with adding different ingredients such as fish sauce and soy sauce.
  • This salad can be served as a side-dish, as a main-dish, as a starter, for lunch, and even for breakfast.

Ingredients for this Thai fruit salad

For the exact measurements, please scroll down to the recipe card at the bottom of the page.

Top-down view of recipe ingredients displayed on a banana leaf: palm sugar, salt, fresh lime juice, chili paste, pomelo fruit, toasted coconut, roasted peanuts, red chilies, kaffir lime leaves, fried garlic, and fried shallots.
  • Pomelo – This tasty citrus fruit forms the base of this Thai salad with pomelo. Look for a ripe fruit with juicy flesh.
  • Homemade chili paste – Nam prik pao adds a kick of heat and extra flavor. Use my homemade version for the best flavor, or store-bought as an alternative.
  • Lime – Fresh lime juice adds a tangy flavor to the dressing that balances the spicy and salty flavors. If your pomelo fruit is naturally sour, then add to taste.
  • Salt – Salt enhances the overall taste, bringing out the best of flavor.
  • Palm sugar – Palm sugar is a commonly used sweeter in Southeast Asian cuisine. It adds a delicious sweetness as well as a hint of caramel flavor.
  • Roasted peanuts – You can choose to crush them with a mortar and pestle or add them as a whole.
  • Roasted coconut – Roasted coconut adds a nutty and slightly toasted flavor to the salad.
  • Fried shallots
  • Fried garlic – The crispy fried shallots and garlic adds texture and flavor.
  • Kaffir lime leaves – These have an aromatic citrus fragrance, which give the salad a citrusy aroma. They’re also known as makrut lime leaves.
  • Chilies – Fresh chili peppers such as bird’s eye chilies or Thai jinda chilies add additional heat, add to taste to suit your spice level.
  • Optional: dried mini shrimp – This recipe makes a vegan salad, but in Thailand it is often tossed with dried mini shrimp.

Cooking instructions

  1. Prep the ingredients

    Instructional photos showing pomelo fruit, toasted coconut, roasted peanuts, and fried shallots.

    1. Peel the pomelo (see how to peel pomelo fruit in the recipe) leaving just the skin.
    2. Heat a wok or skillet over medium heat. Toast shredded coconut until golden brown and fragrant.
    3. Roast the peanuts.
    4. Chop the shallots into thin, even-sized pieces and fry until golden brown, do the same for the garlic.

  2. Prepare the salad dressing

    Close-up of pomelo fruit chunks tossed with salad dressing.

    In a large mixing bowl, mix chili paste, fresh lime juice, salt, and palm sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved. If you have a mixing glove, you can knead with your hand. Then, add the pomelo fruit chunks and thoroughly coat them with the dressing.

  3. Toss the salad

    Instructions for tossing pomelo salad.

    Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl (roasted peanuts, roasted coconut, fried shallots, fried garlic, kaffir lime leaves, and chilies) and toss to mix. Serve immediately.

How to serve

Serve your pomelo salad on its own or pair it with other Thai dishes such as pad Thai or fried chicken.

Garnishing options

  • Fresh herbs: Add a burst of refreshing flavors with cilantro, mint, chopped spring onions, or Thai basil.
  • Shredded coconut and toasted sesame seeds: For extra flavor and texture.
  • Roasted peanuts and cashews: Topping with whole roasted nuts add a satisfying crunch and more of that nutty goodness.
  • Strips of kaffir lime leaves: For a refreshing citrus flavor.
  • Red chili flakes: For extra heat, top with dried chili flakes.

Tip: This Thai pomelo salad recipe is perfect for meal prepping, you can simply make it ahead of time, and pack it in a container to take it with you for lunch or dinner.

How to store

Leftover salad is best stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. For the best taste, I advise eating the leftovers within 2 days. If possible, store the salad dressing separately and mix it with the rest of the ingredients right before serving.

Note that over time, leftovers might become soggy and lose their freshness.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ’s)

Is this a spicy salad?

If you follow the exact quantities, the outcome will be a light to medium spicy salad, with a well-balanced flavor profile.

Can I make this ahead of time?

Yes, this salad is perfect for making in advance. Simply toss the ingredients together and store it in your fridge until you’re ready to consume.

What does a pomelo taste like?

Pomelo is a citrus fruit with unique flavors. Think of it as a milder and sweeter version of grapefruit. A subtle sweet taste with tanginess, but less bitter than grapefruit. Make sure you opt for a ripe pomelo, else it might turn out to be bitter.

What is pomelo good for?

Pomelo is a fruit which offers several health benefits, here are some examples: Pomelo is rich in vitamin C. It contains dietary fiber and antioxidants. It makes a great option for a healthy snack, since it’s low in calories, perfect for those looking to manage their weight.

Is pomelo the same as grapefruit?

No, they are both citrus fruits, but they have a distinct flavor profile and appearance. While pomelo is generally milder, sweeter, and less tart, grapefruit tends to be more on the bitter side. Pomelos are typically larger, often the size of a small melon, with a thick green or yellow peel. Grapefruits are smaller, with a thin rind that ranges from yellow to pink.

More healthy Thai salads to try

  • Thai corn salad – Made with sweetcorn, tomatoes, carrots, and crunchy yard long beans.
  • Thai cucumber relish – The perfect summer condiment – crisp cucumber with sour vinegar and a blend of seasonings.
  • Yum nua – Thai beef salad with vegetables.

If you love this Thai pomelo salad recipe, please leave a star rating and/or a comment below!

5 from 1 vote

Authentic Thai Pomelo Salad Recipe (Yum Som-O)

Difficulty: Intermediate Prep Time 20 min Cook Time 15 min Total Time 35 mins
Servings: 2

Description

This recipe for Thai pomelo salad is easy to whip up, and can be enjoyed any time of the day.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. 1. Peel the pomelo (see how to peel pomelo fruit in the recipe) leaving just the skin.
    2. Heat a wok or skillet over medium heat. Toast shredded coconut until golden brown and fragrant.
    3. Roast the peanuts.
    4. Chop the shallots into thin, even-sized pieces and fry until golden brown, do the same for the garlic.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix chili paste, fresh lime juice, salt, and palm sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved. If you have a mixing glove, you can knead with your hand. Then, add the fruit chunks and thoroughly coat them with the dressing.

  3. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl (roasted peanuts, roasted coconut, fried shallots, fried garlic, kaffir lime leaves, and chilies) and toss to mix. Serve immediately.

Equipment

As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.

Note

  • Use the nutrition card in this recipe as a guideline.
  • Bird's eye chilies or jinda chilies add a lot of heat with just 1 or 2 chilies, so use with caution.
Keywords: Thai pomelo salad, Thai pomelo salad recipe, yum som-o, Thai fruit salad

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About Author

Praew

I owned my own Thai restaurant and have years of experience in various other Thai restaurants. I've been whipping up classic Thai dishes by my mother's and grandma's side since I was just a little girl. Now I'm sharing my deep-rooted passion with my authentic Thai recipes on this food blog.

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