Thursday, August 30, 2007

Green mango salad

Waiting for a piece of fruit to ripen, for the exact moment that it will spill its glorious juices down your bare, sun-warmed arms must, surely, count as one of the greatest pleasures of late summer. Peaches, nectarines and mangoes, at that stage of near collapse, are best tackled bent over the sink, feet planted well back, fingers licked clean and the stone sucked dry before moving on to the next. Holiday fruit, perfect, just as they are.

Happily, there are other ways of approaching the mango. Ones well suited to a southern hemisphere August.

Tart, unripe green mangoes make a fabulous crunchy salad, one that is fresh, sharp and surprisingly moreish. A wake-up call to the palate, one that I cannot get enough of at this stage of the season. This is a bastardized recipe, reminiscent rather than authentic; an attempt to capture the flavour and fragrance associated with warmer, exotic, South East Asian climes. I made it up. It does feel authentic. Serve it on its own by all means, but it is particularly good with fish.

Spring arrived early late last week, seemingly a gift brought by my mum from Sydney, and though she wanted the fierce cold, I’d been dreaming of warmer days and limbs freed from their wintry confines. So thank you mum, for bringing the weather with you and for loving whatever concoctions were placed on the dinner table.

Patience is the key to success here – you need to carefully slice the green mango into very thin julienned strips with a frighteningly sharp blade and you really do need to pick the individual leaves from your bundles of herbs. Do this, and you’ll be rewarded handsomely.

Green mango salad - for 2-4, as an accompaniment
If fish sauce isn’t something you eat, you can use a combination of light soy sauce and umeboshi vinegar to create something admirably akin to its unique taste. A quick trip around your Asian grocer should give you everything you’ll need here.

Juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon of grated palm sugar or dark brown sugar
1 small clove of garlic, crushed
Nam Pla (fish sauce - see above for a vegetarian alternative), to taste

2 green mangoes
1 bunch of Rau Ram (Vietnamese mint)
1 large bunch of coriander
1 small bunch of mint
2 shallots or ½ small red onion, peeled and very thinly sliced
1 tablespoon of crispy, fried shallots

To make the dressing, mix the lime juice, palm sugar and crushed garlic together in a small bowl. Add the Nam Pla to taste, starting with a teaspoon and working up to a maximum of 1 tablespoon. Set aside.

To make the salad, peel the mangoes - an ordinary potato peeler works well. Slice off both ‘cheeks’ as close to the seed as possible and slice into long, very, very thin julienned strips. Cut away anything else you can get similarly long strips from and slice in the same way. Place in a salad bowl.

Wash the herbs and dry them well. Pick the leaves carefully and patiently from the stalks, discarding any that aren’t perfect. Add the picked herbs to the mangoes and toss in the sliced shallots and pour over the dressing. Turn over and over to distribute the flavours and serve in little piles, garnished with the crispy fried shallots for a bit of crunch.


Cindy said...

My thanks go to your mum, also, for the surprisingly sunny days we've been having!

Christina said...

Oh yum, I love these kinds of salads. You may be enjoying them in your winter, but here that sounds like a perfectly cooling dish on a hot day!

Lucy said...

Hasn't it been gorgeous Cindy - the kind of sunny day that makes working seem a chore...

Me too Christina! Perfect at any time of the year really. Crunchy, salty, sour...all my favourite flavours.

Johanna said...

that salad always reminds me of Darwin (well the green pawpaw version but I think it is similar) - have never made it myself but have watched them make it in the little stalls at Darwin's markets.

And yes, the warm weather has been lovely - especially on my bike in the morning - the bright blue skies are so cheering!

winedeb said...

Mango's are abundent here in the south. In fact, I was peeking up at our palm tree in the corner of our yard to see what bird was feasting away on a berry when I noticed the tree in another yard had LOTS of green mangos getting a sun tan. I have never tried a green mango, but if I can get my hands on one of those, I will be giving them a try. I am trying to think of how they will taste. You know, like the first time you try a tomatillo. I was surprised that is had a hint of lime flavor with its tartness. So now I cannot wait to try a green mango! Sounds like a good title to a book - The Green Mango! OK, I am getting a little chatty now!

Wendy said...

Never tried green mango before but I can well imagine how tart it is. Sounds like a really special salad. Especially at your time of year.

Lydia said...

I have had green papaya salad, but never green mango salad -- it sounds delicious! And your beautiful photo makes the green mango absolutely irresistible, too.

Patricia Scarpin said...

Lucy, I have never seen anything made with green mangoes - how interesting!

Anh said...

I have eaten green mango salad since childhood... Oh my, they are so delicious... :)

As a kid, I also had this snack - marinade green mango with salt and chilli powder. It was really fun to eat, I still recalled the unique taste.

Sylvia said...

This kind of salad are my favorite.But i never use green mango wonderful and classy suggestion.

Dee Light said...

Green Mango!!! Intersetsing, I will have to try this salad.

Cynthia said...

I am definitely trying this when green mangoes are in season again. Thanks, Lucy!

Rosa said...

I've only had green mango salad in restaurants and am now anxious to try this at home! I can only treat myself to a ripe mango very rarely, they are so expensive here.

Figs Olives Wine said...

Lucy, gorgeous post. Green papaya salad is one of my favorite foods - I still remember the first time I tasted it a few months after I moved to New York. It was a revelation - I eat it whenever we have Thai food, and I'd love to try this version with green mango! Is the flavor similar? I wish we had access to green mangoes or green papayas here. I've never seen them though. I hope you had fun with your mum, and happy spring!

Anonymous said...

I had no idea you were just coming into spring! duh
I better study up and get with it.

Lucy said...

It's exactly what we've needed Johanna - what a long, wet winter we've had!

Get cracking I say Deb! Surely those neighbours won't miss just a few missing mangoes...

They are tart Wendy, but not so much that it hurts!

Thanks Lydia. The green papaya's are just as good here. Such a unique and exotic flavour.

Glad I've piqued your interest Patricia!

Anh, THAT sounds bloody fantastic! Right...I can feel a whole lot of unripe mango and papaya experiments coming on!

Sylvia, those flavours are so refreshing - hope you manage to track one down.

Hi Dee Light - I hope you do. Let me know how you go!

Cynthia, I can imagine that right now, your home is a ripe mango paradise. HOW wonderful!

Rosa, what a shame, but I suppose that mangoes don't really grow in France (obviously Lucy, duh). But I hope that great Asian grocer of yours can help you out.

Amanda, I remember eating something with green papaya a few years ago and thinking how incredibly NEW it tasted. The taste of green mango and papaya are almost identical, but you'll proably get a lot more flesh from a papaya than a mango - they tend to be quite small. Bring on asparagus season...

Hi Maryann, it's only just beginning to show its signs in the garden and the days are noticably longer, but yesterday the temperature dropped right back down. Oh well, that's Melbourne weather for you - 4 seasons in one day!

Susan said...

When I first read the title of this post, I thought, "The Scent of Green Papaya," an excellent, lovely Vietnamese film. Of course, this is green MANGO, but I'll wager the same excellence and loveliness. You are right, Lucy; sucking at a stone to remove all the flesh does require leaning over the sink in a position more comfortable for Greek sculpture, but it is the only way. Your photo is as sharp and refreshing on the eyes, as I am sure the recipe is to the palate.

Lucy said...

Susan, my dear, I can just imagine both of us slurping over the sink - I think that's the best part of stone fruit! I was particularly pleased with the clarity in that photo and the composition that just seemed to work itself out - the Rau Ram is one of my favourite herbs and it sits nicely next to that curvaceous green beauty!

Figs Olives Wine said...

Update: We had to order Thai food last night. I couldn't deal with myself since reading your post, and I needed green papaya pronto. Still want to find green mango though. Happy asparagus!

Lucy said...

Amanda, you do crack me up! I know that feeling read about something (fr me it's usually a flavour or a fragrance) and then before you know it it will not stop nagging at you until you eat the damn thing! Thai food really does do all the right things for me...