It is not, strictly speaking, a Vietnamese dish. I must say though that this shrimp and watermelon salad was inspired by the popular Vietnamese pomelo salad which can be prepared with shrimp or chicken. And the dressing we used is as Vietnamese as Vietnamese can be. Mixed fish sauce.
Like I wrote several days ago, mixed fish sauce is one of three Vietnamese things that has changed our lives and lifestyle. We just love the balance of salty, sweet, sour and spicy. Sweet and sour sauce is found in just about every culinary tradition in Asia but the freshness and lightness of Vietnamese mixed fish sauce is incomparable.
Why watermelon and shrimp?
For starters, I wondered what would happen if an ultra sweet fruit were tossed with a salty, sweet, sour and spicy sauce.
The choice of shrimp was easy. I wanted a light salad. Chicken would have been too heavy.
And the rest of the ingredients?
Mung bean sprouts for a light crunch.
Feta for indulgence.
The mandarin orange segments and romaine lettuce were added because they were just sitting in the fridge and we didn’t want them to go to waste. These days, the fridge is always full, things get pushed far at the back and we sometimes forget that we have an open jar of fruit or a few leaves of this or that.
The salad was terrific. We feasted. Well, mostly. Sam and her friend, David, found the feta too salty. If, like them, you’re not a fan of salty cheese, you might want to substitute a cheese with milder flavor.
Shrimp and Watermelon Salad with Vietnamese Mixed Fish Sauce
- 20 medium shrimps peeled and deveined
- 6 cups seedless watermelon cubes
- 1 cup mandarin orange segments (available in jars and cans)
- 4 generous handfuls mung bean sprouts rinsed and drained well
- 1 small head Romaine lettuce torn into bite-zise pieces, rinsed and passed through the salad spinner
- 1 cup cubed feta
For the dressing
- ¼ cup mixed fish sauce
Cook the shrimps
- In a frying pan, boil enough water to reach a depth of one inch. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Spread the shrimps in the boiling water and cook for two to two and a half minutes per side.
- Scoop out the shrimps and dry on a bed of paper towels. Cool.
Toss the fruits and vegetables
- In a large mixing bowl, toss together the watermelon cubes, mandarin orange segments, bean sprouts, lettuce and feta.
- Add the shrimps. Toss to distribute.
- Drizzle in the mixed fish sauce and toss a few more times.
- It is imperative that you serve the salad immediately. The watermelon will start expelling its juice the moment it gets in content with the citrus juice in the dressing. So, serve at once.
P. S. My family and I are flying to Japan in a few hours and the next travel story or food tale will be written from there. When exactly that will be, I have no idea. Probably at a time when we’re not too busy eating and food shopping.
Have a great weekend!