Drunken Shrimp Grapefruit Salad

When I was a teenager in the Philippines, the alcoholic beverage of choice was whatever was the cheapest. There is no official, or at least strictly enforced minimum drinking age, so high schoolers drinking was quite the norm. However, we mostly kept the drinking to private properties like our homes or private, fee charging beaches; and not in bars or restaurants. On rare instances when we had extra cash on hand, the go to upgrade was gin-po, a cocktail made of cheap gin mixed with pomelo juice. Not the fresh one, mind you, but rather the neon pink instant powdered ones.

This salad is my attempt at recreating those happy, carefree days of my youth spent hanging out at the local beaches with friends, and a motley assortment of snacks and drinks. Some days we had lechon manok (charbroiled whole chicken), liempo (grilled pork belly), kinilaw (raw fish salad), and panga (grilled tuna jaw). Other days we had to make do with chips and/or kornik (deep-fried crunchy puffed corn). The most prominent flavor and smell always comes from calamansi or Filipino lime. This tiny round lime is super fragrant and is used to flavor everything from marinades and dipping sauces to soups, and even drinks. It’s nearly impossible to find it outside of Southeast Asia, but thankfully you can now buy packets of calamansi juice in most Filipino or Asian stores. If you can’t find calamansi, feel free to use limes for this recipe, particularly key limes.


1/2 grapefruit, peeled, segmented, and torn to bite sized pieces
1 cup shrimp, deveined, cooked and peeled
1/2 cup English cucumbers, chopped
2 tbps red onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 tbsp cilantro, chopped
3 tbsp calamansi juice
2 oz gin
1 chili (jalapeño or serrano), or 1 tsp chili powder
salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a large bowl, gently toss together the cucumber, shrimp, grapefruit, onions, ginger, garlic, and cilantro. Add desired amount of heat.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix the gin and calamansi juice. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Add the gin dressing to the salad and mix thoroughly. Serve immediately.

To cook the shrimp; boil a pot of water and add the shrimp, let cook for 3 minutes. For salad recipes, I usually buy frozen shrimp with the heads removed already and deveined. You still have to peel them though after cooking. 

When buying calamansi juice, make sure you don’t buy something that’s labeled “juice” or “concentrate”. These are sweetened and intended to be used as juice flavoring. So far I only know of the Manila Gold Pure Calamansi brand to offer pure calamansi juice.

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