My passion for cooking has been influenced by various sources. My mother is an amazing cook and taught me how to navigate my way around the kitchen from a young age. Mum is currently enjoying teaching my two-year-old niece how to cook biscuits so I am guessing I started helping in the kitchen at a similar age. Another early influence was my first weekend job as a kitchen hand working at a local guesthouse in the Blue Mountains called Pegum’s (no longer in operation). I very quickly branched out from stacking the dishwasher to helping with plating up the food and being in charge of the deep fryer. This recipe is trying to re-create a Thai rockmelon salad I remember from my Pegum’s days.
The shrimp paste in this recipe has been listed as optional, because it is one of those ingredients you need to be brave and get past the smell to use. You should be able to track shrimp paste down in the Asian section of your supermarket. Shrimp paste has an overpowering smell, and must be cooked before use; once it is roasted the flavour isn’t as strong. The SBS Food website suggests to wrap a small amount of shrimp paste in foil and put into a hot oven or hold over flame using tongs to cook. Then cool and crumble and it is ready to use.
Rockmelon is known as cantaloupe to Americans. Feel free to experiment using other melons or fruits. The dressing would be delicious on shredded green mango, this suggestion is inspired by a green mango salad I tried at a food court in Chang Mai during my first trip to Thailand. Green mangos can be tricky to find, but you could try an Asian supermarket.
Thai Rockmelon Salad
- 100g roasted peanuts
- 1 bunch of coriander
- 4 spring onions
- 4 birds eye chillies (or to taste)
- 2 large or 3 small limes
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon roasted shrimp paste (optional – see notes above)
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 rockmelon
- Chop the rockmelon into quarters. Scoop out the seeds and peel off the skin. Chop into chunks.
- Zest and juice the limes. Add the juice and zest to a blender.
- Chop the ends and dark green parts off the spring onions.
- Wash the coriander thoroughly. Pick the leaves off the coriander and finely chop. Reserve two of the coriander roots for the sauce.
- Add the garlic, chilis, fish sauce, spring onions, roasted shrimp paste, two coriander roots and half the peanuts to the blender.
- Blend until everything is combined.
- Add the remaining peanuts and blend very briefly. You want to retain some peanut texture. You will end up with a thick paste.
- Scape the sauce out of the bender onto the chopped rockmelon. Stir to coat the rockmelon.
- Add the chopped coriander and stir to combine. You can either eat straight away or store for up to a day or two. Enjoy.
What is your favourite Thai inspired recipe? Has this post inspired any new ideas?