Now that we are coming out of our prolonged seasonal produce purgatory across the US (otherwise known as late winter/early spring), many of us are ready to fill our plates with fresh, brightly flavored fruits and vegetables. Salads tend to take precedence as the easiest way to accomplish this,but they can quickly grow tired and boring if you don’t have any variation. This mango salad, with its sweet/salty/spicy/crunchy elements, is a sure way to keep your salad routine from going stale. Bonus: if you chop everything a bit smaller, you have a fantastic topping for simply grilled or roasted fish and chicken.
Recipe notes: Don’t have mint on hand? Try it with cilantro, Thai basil, or just leave the herb element out. Just don’t omit the salt- the whole thing will fall flat if you do. I prefer to use yellow Ataulfo mangoes for their more assertive flavor, but any variety will work here. If you end up using a larger variety like a Kent or a Tommy Atkins (the green and red varieties commonly found in US grocery stores), use only two or three mangoes since they are larger than the Ataulfos. The recipe here is more of a guideline, as the sweetness of the mangoes will dictate how much lime juice and chile paste you need. Taste as you go.
4 Atulfo mangos, peeled and chopped into medium bite-sized pieces
1/2 large-ish English cucumber (the long, skinny, thin-skinned kind), diced
1/2 – 3/4 smallish red onion, diced
Heaping 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Thai chile paste (Sambal is great here), to taste
1 thin-skinned lime
A small handful of thinly sliced mint leaves.
1. Mix together the mango, cucumber, red onion, and salt in a large bowl. Add 1/2 teaspoon of the chili paste and the juice from the lime. Stir and taste. If the lime wasn’t particularly juicy, you may need to add the juice from another lime. If it tastes a bit bland, add more salt. Now, taste for heat, keeping in mind that as the salad sits, the heat from the chile paste will bloom and intensify a bit. I like mine to leave my lips pleasantly tingling, but not to the point that it drowns out other flavors. This isn’t the place to indulge your inner chilehead. Once you have the heat where you like, give everything a final stir and then let the salad sit for half an hour before serving. Just before serving, stir in the fresh mint.