Friday, June 01, 2007

Sweet, Sour, Salty, Spicy Tropical Fruit Salad

So to continue this thread of salads with the basic Vietnamese fish sauce dressing, you can also add it to fruit salads. Really.

I'm not sure if it's a Vietnamese thing but I like a little bit of salt on my watermelon. Sometimes I eat my grapes and mangoes with soy sauce and chili peppers. Harder fruits like apples and pears are eaten with salt and chili peppers. Of course, the majority of the time, I eat my fruit plain. But for those occasional moments when you want the sweet, sour, salty, spicy flavors all rolled into one...

Anyway, so after seeing this salad at Rambling Spoon, I was also reminded of this salad from "The Foods of Bali: Authentic Recipes From the Island of the Gods" by Heinz von Holzen and Lother Arsana. So technically, this recipe isn't Vietnamese, Thai, or Indonesian, but it incorporates flavors from all of those cuisines.

I admit, it's an acquired taste, so it may not be for you.

Sweet, Sour, Salty, Spicy Tropical Fruit Salad

You'll need:
As much fruit as you want. Since this is a tropical salad, fruits such as mangoes, pineapples, papayas, pomelos, watermelon, etc. work best. If nothing else, just go with the mangoes and pineapples.

For the dressing, you'll need:
tamarind pulp (You can find small blocks of seedless tamarind pulp for a few bucks at most Asian grocery stores.)
fish sauce, to taste
brown sugar, to taste
lemon or lime juice, to taste
dried chili peppers, to taste

Mash the tamarind pulp and add the rest of the dressing ingredients. Adjust according to taste but you should have a mix of sweet, sour, salty, spicy flavors. Don't worry if it's not too sweet since the fruit will take care of that.

Fruit should be washed and cut into chunks.

Add dressing ingredients and toss gently to mix thoroughly. Chill in fridge for about half an hour before serving.


  1. definitely not for me.


  2. Hmmm - I like the sweet, sour, salty and spicy (esp. spicy!) thing but I have to say, I have never eaten my grapes with soy sauce! hehe! I'm not sure I'm quite ready to try either!

    Your fruit salad though, looks fantastically tasty and colourful! I didn't really grow up using fish sauce so I'm always on the lookout for different recipes that use it!

  3. This is like my favorite Indonesian snack of all time, called rujak. Nothing like fermented brine shrimp with jicama and tart mango...yum.

  4. One of my cousins introduced this strange fruit salad to me a few years back and I have been in love with it since. The only thing I always do if I make this fruit salad is to make sure I put clingfilm over the prepared bowl while chilling it in the fridge otherwise the smell of fish sauce may linger in the fridge for many days after :D

  5. i bet that would taste SO good with mango!!!

  6. yum look goods. something i would like definitely. I also like green mangoes (or some ripe yet sour ones) dipped in soy sauce/sugar mixture. You mix to taste but I aim for the caramelized effect. love your blog makes so hungry all the time!

  7. Whoa, I've never had soy sauce with my grapes either! I have some grapes...maybe I'll try it later tonight.

    That tropical fruit salad didn't appeal to me at first because of the fish sauce, but then I realized that I like goi xoai xanh which also has fish sauce. Thanks for sharing this interesting salad!

  8. I love how fish sauce is so versatile. Honestly, it enhances the flavors of everything, including sweet dishes. As always, thank you for sharing your wonderful recipes. :)

  9. t,
    Haha! Most of my recipes seem to be not for you. :)

    Ah, if you're looking to try fish sauce, I'd recommend my recipes for nem nuong (grilled pork patties) or goi ga (chicken salad) instead! I'm not sure if your initial forays into fish sauce should begin with this. :)

    It was a rujak recipe I saw but I didn't have any brined shrimp on hand so I subbed with fish sauce. I know it's not the same though!

    I'd put it in a container with a tight lid. I don't know if plastic wrap is enough to keep out the smell. ;)

    It's the mango and pineapples that were my favorite parts of the salad.


    Come to think of it, this crazy concoction should be right up your alley! No rice crispies though! ;)

    Thank YOU for being so complimentary. :)

  10. what else you got up your sleeves?


  11. Okay, I know I'm very late to the game with this comment, but I made something tonight that I often made and I started to wonder if it's something you are familiar with. I'm not sure if it's strictly a Khmer thing, but we love to grind up chilies with salt in a mortar and then dip whatever tart/sour fruits we can find into it (usually crab apples or green mangoes). It's also great sprinkled on green grapes and tart pomegranate seeds. We also like to dip tart fruit into a mixture of fish sauce, chopped chilies, and sugar or that gray fermented shrimp paste and chopped chilies. However, the salt and chilies mixture is very popular and was just curious if it was a Viet thing too. Here's a picture of what I'm talking about (just the thought of it makes my mouth water): Chilies ground in salt

  12. Make it Spicy,
    Yup, I mentioned it in my post, "I'm not sure if it's a Vietnamese thing but I like a little bit of salt on my watermelon. Sometimes I eat my grapes and mangoes with soy sauce and chili peppers. Harder fruits like apples and pears are eaten with salt and chili peppers."

  13. Thanks for answering. I wasn't sure if you ground the peppers in the salt, too, or if you sprinkled on the salt and then took bites out of the fruit and chili. Nice to know others enjoy this "treat" too. :)

  14. Make it Spicy,
    My dad bites chilies when he eats dinner, but for fruit we mash it into the salt and then dip.


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