Vine-ripened watermelon, tomato, and cucumber drizzled with curry oil, dolloped with coconut cream, finished with fresh herbs and crunchy peanuts. A Thai inspired sweet-savory summer salad.
This salad is pretty easy to make. However, it does require some advanced preparation. I would begin making this salad at least two hours before I intended to serve it.
Start by making the coconut oil. Heating the oil and adding it to the spices blooms(tempers) them, releasing their oils and flavors. Be careful when heating the oil. If it gets too hot it can easily burn the spices, turning them black and leaving you with a bitter-tasting oil. The oil will need to infuse and cool for at least an hour before serving. Keep in mind that coconut oil will solidity if it gets cold or comes in contact with ice-cold fruits. Usually, by the time all of the fruit gets cut and combined this is not an issue. I use only the bright yellow oil to drizzle on the salad, leaving the spices to further flavor any leftover oil. If you prefer you can strain the spices off or mix them in.
The coconut cream needs to be mixed in advance to give it time to chill so that it will whip nicely. Whipping the cream isn’t necessary to this recipe it is more for aesthetic appeal. Drizzling the salad with the coconut mixture works just as well. I know your thinking to yourself why is there fish sauce in this fresh salad and it’s only a small amount. I will just leave it out! If your vegan or totally opposed to fish sauce by all means leave it out. But…. the fish sauce adds a pungent saltiness that really ties the Thai flavors together!
If you are lucky enough to find raw peanuts, roasting them will take some additional prep time. For raw shelled peanuts, roast them for about 15-20 minutes in a 350-degree oven and sprinkle with salt before chopping. Unshelled add 10-15 minutes of additional cook time. For peanut allergies, almonds or sesame seeds are a good substitution. Or if you’re feeling adventurous you can toast and hull the leftover watermelon seeds!
Watermelon Salad with Coconut Cream and Curry Oil
- 1/2 cup coconut oil
- 1/4 tsp chili flake
- 1 tsp coriander ground
- 1/2 tsp ginger ground
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1 pinch cloves ground
- 1/2 cup coconut cream
- 1/4 tsp fish sauce
- 1 tsp lime juice
- 1 pinch salt
- 2 cups watermelon diced and deseeded
- 2 cups tomato diced
- 2 cups cucumber peeled, deseeded, and diced
- 1/2 cup peanuts toasted and chopped
- 8-10 large basil or thai basil leaves
- 10-15 large mint leaves
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Combine the spices in a heatproof container.
- Heat oil until it just begins to shimmer and remove from heat.
- Add hot oil to spices and allow to cool and flavors to blend. At least 1 hour.
- Combine all ingredients and chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
- Whip coconut cream in a mixer or with a hand blender until thick.
- Toss the fruits together with salt. Portion onto 4 plates or a large platter.
- Drizzle 1-2 tbsp of oil onto each plate. Dollop 1-2 tbsp of coconut cream onto each salad.
- Garnish each salad with peanuts and torn basil and mint leaves.