Nigel Slater’s recipe for tropical fruits and lemongrass syrup | Dessert

Make a syrup for the salad by putting 100g of sugar in a medium-sized saucepan and pouring in 400ml of water. Crush 2 stalks of lemongrass firmly with a heavy weight so they splinter (I use the pestle from my mortar, but the end of a rolling pin will work, too.) Add the water and bring it to the boil. Add the lemongrass to the water. Remove from the heat as soon as the sugar has dissolved, pour in 100ml orange juice and set aside to cool and infuse.

Peel 1 large papaya and remove the black seeds. Slice the flesh into pencil-thick pieces and place in a mixing bowl. Peel 1 pink grapefruit with a sharp knife, removing every little bit of the white pith, then slice into segments, peeling away the skin of each segment as you go. Reserve as much of the juice as you can. Add the grapefruit to the papaya. Peel 12 lychees and add to the grapefruit and papaya, then pour over the chilled syrup removing the lemongrass as you go.

Peel 1 small pineapple and discard the skin. Slice the fruit in half and then into thick segments. Add to the marinating fruits and leave for a good hour in the fridge before bringing to the table. Serves 4

The salad should have a good balance of sweet (papaya, pineapple) and tart (grapefruit, lemongrass). I like the sourness to ring loudly, so I include all the juice from the grapefruit as well as its flesh. Taste as you go.

Let the fruit marinate for a good hour, but not overnight. The papaya may lose its texture if left too long in the syrup.

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