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.