Describing this salad in words transforms flavors and texture into language; thus, if you’re not familiar with salad flavor re-layering terms, you can quickly review them here, as this is the foundation for the technique described here.
If you can’t obtain fresh roselle fruits, I suggest that you try to grow some, or substitute them with any sour red fruit (such as cranberries).
This is a wonderful salad that had fallen into obscurity. But, as one of Lady Plean Passakornrawong’s first-ever recipes published in the 1890 edition of the “Bpradtithin Bat Laae Joht Maai Haeht (ประติทินบัตร แล จดหมายเหตุ)” journal, it deserves a resurrection.
Although it seems to be an extremely simple salad, the range of ingredients and techniques that are used results in an almost cinematic dish – colorful and striking – that is both easy to make and extremely delicious.
Red roselle seed buds (fruits) are mostly used to make red sour drinks or jams, but they can also be deployed in savory dishes such as salads and sour curries. The seed pods have a fruity mild sour taste and a dramatic fire engine-red color.
The highlights of this salad are shrimp acid-cured with lime juice, and a dressing made from the shrimp curing liquids “naam sa uh” (น้ำสะเออะ). The salad’s simple complexity is based on re-seasoning the sour element into a triangle of elements: lime juice, kaffir lime juice and the roselle. Furthermore, the acid curing of the shrimp expands the shrimp presence in the dish; the shrimp is showcased as the main protein and also in dressing. Likewise, due to the gentle acid curing, the shrimp’s natural sweetness turns into a sour-sweet gradient reaching from the cured surface to the semi-raw core.
The shrimp’s inherent delicate sweetness is re-introduced with the sweetness of the onions and the fruity-sweetness of the yellow chilies.
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To acid-cure the shrimp
- 1/2 cup shrimp (กุ้ง) peeled and deveined, cut into bite size pieces
- 3 tablespoons lime juice (น้ำมะนาว)
For the salad
- 1/4 cup roselle seed buds (กระเจี๊ยบแดง) blanched
- 1 tablespoon yellow onion (หอมใหญ่) Dice into small equal-sized cubes
- 1 tablespoon Thai garlic (กระเทียมไทย) peeled and sliced thinly
- 1/2 tablespoon fresh yellow chili (phrik leuang) (พริกเหลือง) cut into small equal-sized squares
- 1 tablespoon coriander leaves (ใบผักชี) soaked in water to freshen
- 1 part naam sa uh (น้ำสะเออะ) (acid-curing liquids)
- 1 1/2 parts fish sauce (น้ำปลา)
- 1 part granulated sugar (น้ำตาลทราย)
- 1/4 part kaffir lime juice (น้ำมะกรูด)
Prepare the shrimp.
- Peel and de-vein the shrimp, removing both the back vein and the white vein running on the inner crescent side of the shrimp.
- Slice the shrimp into small equal-sized pieces.
- Marinate the shrimp in lime juice; be sure to measure the amount of lime juice you use to marinate the shrimp.
- Mix gently to ensure that all shrimp are covered with lime juice. Wait for the meat to cure and develop a white opaque color, and for the 'naam sa uh' liquids (น้ำสะเออะ) to ooze out of the shrimp meat.
- When the shrimp are cooked to your liking, whether fully or semi-cooked, strain and reserve the liquids that oozed out. Seal the container with a cling film to prevent evaporation and preserve the fruitiness of the lime juice. Set aside.
Prepare the Roselle seed pods.
- Remove and discard the inner seeds from their capsule, either by peeling the red calyces with a knife or by extracting the capsule via pushing it out with a sharp metal tube.
- Cut the bottom of each calyx to straighten the edge, then cut the Roselle calyx into equal size pieces.
- In a wok, bring water to a boil. Turn off the heat and blanch the Roselle for only a few seconds until they become shiny. It is crucial to keep the fruit flesh textured, so do not overcook! Set aside.
Prepare the rest of the salad ingredients.
- Deseed the yellow chilies and remove the inner white membrane. Cut the chilies into small equal-sized squares. Set aside.
- Dice the yellow onion into small equal-sized cubes. Set aside.
- Peel and slice Thai garlic lengthwise into thin slices. Set aside.
- Pick young, equal-sized coriander leaves and soak them in water to freshen them.
Prepare the dressing
- Measure the amount of the shrimp curing liquids 'naam sa uh' (น้ำสะเออะ) and mix with fish sauce, white sugar and kaffir lime juice at the ratios indicated.