Make This Now: Spicy Thai-Style Pomelo, Green Bean, and Zucchini Salad

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Bittersweet pomelo in a spicy dressing with snappy green beans and zucchini. J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

You know that episode of the Simpsons where Homer changes his name to Max Power and suddenly all kinds of opportunities open up for him, despite the fact that he's the same old schlub? Well, pomelo, the world's largest citrus fruit, needs no such help, but if you need to convince someone that this salad is worth eating, try using pomelo's extra-cool taxonomical name: Citrus maxima.

In Thailand and other parts of Southeast Asia, pomelo salads are everywhere during pomelo season. It's a relatively dry, meaty citrus fruit with a unique mildly bitter flavor that goes well with the sweet-hot dressing its generally paired with.

If you made the Isan-style Sliced Steak Salad I wrote about, then you'll recognize the dressing in this salad, made with garlic and dried chilies pounded in a mortar and pestle (far better for extracting flavor than a food processor or blender), combined with sugar, lime juice, and fish sauce.

The rest of the salad is a piece of cake: segments of green beans (or long bean if you can find it) blanched very briefly in water,* some sliced raw zucchini and shallots, and a handful of chopped fresh mint leaves. The simple ingredients bely the complexity of the finished dish, which has a great balance of crunchy and soft textures along with bitter, sweet, spicy, salty, and pungent flavors all in perfect balance.

*In Thailand you're more likely to find the beans served raw. I prefer the texture of slightly cooked beans.

Can't find pomelo? No worries—any non-sweet grapefruit variety will do (think white over ruby red). Just make sure to drain it well before incorporating it into the rest of the salad. In this case, you may want to tell folks that they're eating a Citrus paradisi salad.

Why do fruit get all the cool names?