Everything is bigger and better in Texas – even the grapefruit.
I’m talking of course, about Texas Rio Star grapefruit, which are just now coming into their peak season, and which you’ll find on sale starting today at Brookshire’s.
To me, Rio Star grapefruit are just better than other kinds out there. The deep-red flesh is sweeter and juicier than the typical pink or white grapefruit from other parts of the country. Much of that is because these grapefruit have been bred to have a high sugar-to-acid ratio, but it also is due to the way they are handled. They are allowed to ripen on the trees down in south Texas, and then picked at peak freshness and rushed to the store.
You probably eat grapefruit by themselves, or maybe squeezed into juice, but this Vietnamese-inspired salad is a really interesting fusion of sweet, spicy, savory and tart, all in one refreshing salad.
Fish sauce and chili sambal are available in the Asian section in many larger stores. You can substitute the more common Sriracha sauce (commonly known as rooster sauce) for the chili sambal, but it will not be quite as hot. You can skip the fish sauce entirely, if you want, but the salad won’t be as complex or interesting without it. If you skip the fish sauce, you may need to add a bit of salt to taste, as fish sauce is quite salty.
Vietnamese Style Grapefruit Salad
2 large grapefruit
1 cucumber, cut into matchsticks
2 tsp Kosher salt
1 medium size carrot, cut into matchsticks
3 shallots, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 cup mint leaves, chopped
1/4 cup chopped, roasted peanuts
2 Tbs Fish sauce
1 1/2 Tbs lime juice, fresh-squeezed
2 Tbs sugar
2 tsp chili sambal
Section and clean grapefruits.
In a large bowl, toss cucumber strips with salt. Set aside for 20 minutes to allow the salt to draw out excess water.
Mix together the ingredients for the dressing.
Place a small sauté pan on medium high heat and cook the shallots and garlic until shallots are caramelized, about 3 minutes, don’t burn.
Drain any excess water from cucumber and mix with carrots, caramelized shallots and garlic.
Add the mint, chopped peanuts, and dressing and toss well. Transfer to a plate or large bowl and serve.