Saturday, August 8, 2009
The Substitute Side: Green Mango Salad With Plum Dressing
The humidity has finally arrived in Philadelphia.
There are those of us in the Northeast who thought it might never come, who waited with fingers crossed that we might have a summer without stickiness, a summer where we didn't need to breathe air with the consistency of soup, a summer where a shower doesn't simply rinse off one layer of sweat so that another can take its place.
And yet, here we are.
Today's recipe is a great summer salad -- the perfect antidote when the heat index starts rising. It's quick to assemble, it keeps well, and it's quite delicious. Let's get right to it.
Green Mango Salad With Plum Dressing
2 Green (unripe) Mangoes
1 Green Bell Pepper
1 Anaheim Pepper
1 large shallot
1 Tablespoon Lime Juice
1 Tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
1 Teaspoon Sugar
1/4 Cup olive oil
1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
1 Teaspoon Fish Sauce (optional)
10 Basil Leaves
Start with your two mangoes -- you want to select a pair that are both deep green and firm; conveniently enough, this is how most supermarkets sell them.
Peel your mangoes.
Next, slice each mango in half, working your way around the pit...
...and then slice each half lengthwise into thin strips.
Take these slices and stack them in small piles, slicing them once more into match sticks. Do this slowly and carefully -- mangoes can be slippery, and you want to keep your thumb. Toss all the pieces into a big mixing bowl.
[Editor's Note: For more pictures of this knife technique, see our post on Miso-Mustard Pommes Allumettes.]
After that, finely mince and add your hot pepper -- I like an Anaheim pepper for this, just slightly spicier than a Jalapeño, but not enough to set your mouth on fire. Feel free to experiment with different peppers and amounts, but remember, this should be at least somewhat spicy to set off the sweetness of the plums.
There is a trick to slicing peppers quickly and safely -- once you've made your initial slicing removing the core and seeds, flip the pepper "upside-down", so that the smooth exterior is against the cutting board, and the pebbled, course interior is facing upwards. This additional texture gives your knife's blade something to grip, ensuring a clean, straight, easy cutting motion. Trust me, slice one pepper this way, and you'll never cut against the slippery outside again.
Make sure your mince is as fine as you can get it -- you don't want your guests biting into a big, raw chunk of hot pepper. If you're worried that you can't get it fine enough, you can always puree the pepper into the dressing. Less attractive, but it does the job.
Next, take your bell pepper, cutting it into strips, using the same "upside-down" trick. Add both sliced peppers to the mixing bowl.
From here, it's time to make your dressing. Remove the pits from your plums, quarter them, and toss them into a food processor.
Next, peel and roughly chop a shallot and add that to the processor as well.
Follow this with your liquids, adding in the lime juice, vinegar, fish sauce, Kosher salt, and pepper. If you're not a fan of fish sauce, I understand, and you can skip it. That being said, know that you'll miss out on a lovely bit of depth and funk in the final sauce. When used in small amounts like this, there really isn't a fishy taste at all.
Pulse your food processor until all the elements are finely chopped, and then leave on to puree. Drizzle in your olive oil to emulsify everything. You should be left with a somewhat thick, magenta-colored dressing.
Pour your dressing into the mixing bowl and toss well. Finely chop up your basil leaves, mixing about 3/4th of them in, and sprinkling the rest over the top as garnish. The final product:
This is a great summer salad, a fantastic way to break up the monotonous parade of mayonnaise-based side dishes found on most picnic tables. The great combination of sweetness and heat, the crunchiness, the bright bursts of citrus, the subtle depth of the fish sauce; all of it comes together to create a whole that's far more than the sum of its parts. Feel free to double the recipe -- I'll bet that it disappears quickly.
We'll be back next week with yet another dessert -- if you thought the French Fruit Tart with Vanilla Crème was easy, well, just you wait.
Music: M.I.A. -- "Mango Pickle Down River"