Cambodian Grilled Shrimp Salad

Cambodian Grilled Shrimp Salad (Nyorm Pakaong)

  • 8 ounces raw shrimp, shell-on and preferably head-on
  • 1 tablespoon neutral cooking oil such as canola
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Thai green eggplants, quartered
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 piece galangal, about the size of 1 medium garlic clove, minced
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, tender portion only, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1-3 Thai bird’s-eye chilies, thinly sliced
  • 2-3 tablespoons lime juice, freshly squeezed
  • 8 small radishes, thinly sliced
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted peanuts, chopped
  • 1½ cups mixed fresh Thai basil, cilantro and mint leaves
  • Fried shallots or onions, for garnish
  • 2 New England-style lobster roll buns, split and toasted (optional)
  • Mayonnaise, preferably Kewpie brand (optional)

Peel shrimp, leaving heads and tails intact. Clean and devein. Toss with oil, salt and pepper. Grill over hot fire until just cooked, 2 to 3 minutes per side; set aside.

Put eggplant and shallots in small bowl of cold water for 10 minutes; remove and pat dry.

Combine garlic, galangal, lemongrass, fish sauce, sugar, chilies and lime juice. Mix thoroughly to dissolve sugar. Taste for balance; it should be evenly tart, salty and a little sweet. Add shrimp, eggplants, shallots, radishes, green onions and peanuts. Toss lightly and taste, adding lime juice and salt or fish sauce as needed. 

To serve, gently toss in herbs and garnish with fried onions or shallots. Serve in bowls or on toasted, mayo-slathered buns. Serves 2. 

Recipe courtesy of Ethan Lim

Photography by Frank Lawlor