• Yield: Serves 4

This is a departure from my usual tomato salad, which is composed of little more than carved-up tomatoes, torn basil, salt, and olive oil. Daniel and I eat this simple salad almost every night in tomato season, since it takes about twenty seconds to assemble and has a juicy purity of tomato flavor that I can’t seem to get enough of this time of year.

But with the fish sauce, limes, scallions, and jalapeños for the turkey already sitting out within arm’s reach, I decided to try something new.

It turned out to be insanely good, very tangy, and a nice break from the more everyday, if tasty, tomato salads I usually make. I’ve since added it to our summer tomato rotation (sometimes with a sliced Kirby cucumber standing in for one of the tomatoes) and find myself whipping it up even if I have to hunt in the cupboard for the fish sauce and sort through the vegetable bin for a jalapeño. It’s worth the chase every time.


  • About 2 teaspoons Asian fish sauce, such as nam pla or nuoc mam, or to taste

  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice

  • 1 teaspoon light brown sugar

  • 2 scallions, finely chopped

  • 1 fat garlic clove, minced (or use 2 small ones)

  • 1/2 jalapeño, seeded, if desired, and finely chopped

  • 3 large or 4 medium tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Thai or regular basil

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

plate of food on book cover Favorite Recipes from Melissa Clark's Kitchen by Melissa Clark


1. In a small bowl, whisk together the fish sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, scallions, garlic, and jalapeño. (If you think your fish sauce is very salty, start with 1 teaspoon; you can add more at the end.)

2. Arrange the tomato slices on a plate. Spoon the dressing over the tomatoes. Let stand for 10 minutes to allow the tomatoes time to release their juices. Sprinkle with the basil and cilantro; serve.

Recipe excerpted from Favorite Recipes from Melissa Clark's Kitchen (Black Dog & Leventhal; 2018).

Melissa Clark
Melissa Clark is a food writer, author, and host of our new podcast Weeknight Kitchen with Melissa Clark. She is a food columnist for The New York Times, and has written more than 30 cookbooks including Dinner in an Instant, Cook This Now, and In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite.