Susan Feniger's Burmese Gin Thoke Melon Salad

Susan Feniger's Burmese Gin Thoke Melon Salad

Burmese Gin Thoke Melon Salad. [Photograph: Jennifer May]

At once sweet, tangy, earthy, and nutty, Susan Feniger's interpretation of a Burmese digestive snack in her Street Food is truly a knockout. Her recipe combines a blend of melons--watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew--with a potent mix of young ginger, sesame, and coconut. (This is the gin thoke.) Next, the salad is then bulked up with blanched peanuts and strangely perfect green lentils and then dressed with a bit of sugar, soy sauce, and lime juice. It sounds like a crazy combination, but it works.

Why I picked this recipe: I'm always looking for new takes on fruit salad; this Gin Thoke was like nothing I'd ever seen before.

What worked: Just about everything was spot on.

What didn't: My only complaint was that the proportion of lentils seemed a little high. Otherwise, it was rock solid.

Suggested tweaks: The young ginger, coconut, and sesame combo could play well with a variety of fruits. I'd definitely experiment with stone fruits or perhaps a mango version.

Reprinted with permission from Susan Feniger's Street Food by Susan Feniger. Copyright 2012. Published by Clarkston Potter. Available wherever books are sold. All rights reserved.

  • Yield:serves 6
  • Active time: 45 minutes
  • Total time:45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 small seedless watermelon (2½ pounds)
  • 1/2 ripe cantaloupe melon (1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1/4 ripe honeydew melon (1 pound)
  • 2 (3-inch) pieces young ginger, peeled and minced (1/3 cup), or 2 (3-inch) pieces regular ginger, peeled and minced (1/3 cup)
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1/4 cup lime juice (from 3 to 4 limes)
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 cup dried green lentils
  • 2 cups wide-flake unsweetened coconut
  • 1 1/4 cups blanched raw peanuts
  • 4 fresh kaffir lime leaves, chopped

Directions

  1. 1.

    Start by cutting up the melons: Trim off the rind of all 3 melons, remove any seeds, and cut the flesh into 1/2 ­inch dice. Put all of the diced melon in a large mixing bowl.

  2. 2.

    In a separate bowl, combine the ginger, sesame seeds, lime juice, soy sauce, 1/4cup of the olive oil, 2 tablespoons of the sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Mix well and pour over the melon. Toss, and let marinate at room temperature while you prepare the rest of the salad.

  3. 3.

    Put the lentils and 4 cups cold water in a small saucepan set over high heat, and bring to a boil, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon of the salt and cook for 5 minutes, or until the lentils are tender but not mushy. Drain, rinse with cold water to chill, and then stir into the melon mixture.

  4. 4.

    Combine the coconut, peanuts, kaffir lime, remaining 1 teaspoon sugar, remaining 1/4 cup olive oil, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt in a large sauté pan. Toast the peanut mixture over medium­low heat, stirring it constantly, until the coconut and peanuts have toasted, somewhat unevenly, to a golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

  5. 5.

    Just before serving, add the peanut mixture to the melon mixture and stir gently to combine. Serve in a large bowl, preferably at room temperature.