Mango, Chilli and Lime Salad

To my shame, scrolling down the posts thus far on this site, the only thing I can find that, unadjusted, is suitable for vegans is the recipe for bread. Today, all that changes.

I think I first came across the idea of this recipe when my friend Marek bought along a bowl of something similar to a bring-a-bowl dinner one time. It’s exactly the kind of thing that, on paper, turns me off a little (I think I may have been damaged beyond repair by finding sultanas in, and I’m not kidding here, coleslaw as a schoolchild) but, in practice, this salad is moreish in the extreme, and is so fresh and delicious, you just can’t help but dig in for more, and more, and more.

It’s particularly strong as a barbecue side-dish, especially if you’re grilling chicken, but it also goes well alongside noodle dishes, roasted vegetables, aromatic asian fish recipes (think lemongrass and chilli) or made larger with the addition of a more substantial element to make it into a main course.

One of the keys to making it really delicious is striking the perfect balance between the sweetness of the mangoes, sourness of the limes, and salt. When you’re seasoning, bear that in mind, and follow your palate.

You will need:

  • One Large, Very Ripe Mango.
  • A Lime
  • A Fat Spring Onion
  • A Long Red Chilli
  • A Small Bunch of Coriander
  • 1tsp Oil (I’d say extra virgin olive oil is too strong a flavour; I used a cold pressed rapeseed oil)
  • A Few Drops of Sesame Oil

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Squeeze the juice of your lime into a medium sized bowl, getting as much juice from it as you can.

Next, peel and dice your mango. Everyone has their own way of going about this. My own is based on the careful study of a fellow on the Thai island of Koh Samet who bought and prepared a beautiful Alphonso Mango up the beach every day for myself and my wife (chopped up and popped in a tray alongside some sticky coconut rice and a tiny plastic bag of condensed milk. I’m salivating at the mere thought of it); he sliced off the stem, carefully peeled the mango with a vegetable peeler and then, using a long, thin knife, cut off the two large lobes of flesh either side of the stone, then the two smaller ones around its edge before cutting them into bitesized pieces. He did all this using the palm of his hand as a table, in the expert manner of all the Thai fruit sellers I’ve seen (watching an old lady prepare ten coconuts in 60 seconds using a machete is such a joy) which I don’t opt for myself, for obvious reasons, but in all other respects, I’ve shamelessly plagiarised his methodology. Once diced, add the mango to the lime, and toss.

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Slice the spring onion and chilli thinly, at an angle if you’re feeling stylish (removing the chilli’s seeds if you want it less hot, though I think a bit of a kick is necessary in the end result) add to the bowl, and stir. Finely chop the coriander, roots and all, add and stir. Stir in the oils, then season with a few grinds of pepper, then salt. Taste, then add more salt if required. It should feel deliciously balanced with the sour and sweet flavours, with no one of the three dominating.

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At this stage, it can either sit in the fridge for a couple of hours, or be eaten straight away. I think it benefits a little from a little time for the flavours to marry, but it’s delicious eaten immediately too.

A few things to try:

  • Add a couple of handfuls of small, soft salad leaves like watercress, baby beetroot leaves or rocket immediately before serving to make it more of a traditional side salad.
  • Substitute the teaspoon of oil for the same quantity of thai fish sauce if serving alongside Southeast Asian food. (This will obviously make it non-vegan, but will be very delicious)
  • Stir in some sliced, grilled chicken, a couple of tablespoons of yoghurt and a teaspoon of curry powder and get a result with an air of (a slightly more refined) coronation chicken about it.
  • If you can get your hands on any, use kaffir limes, grating in some of the zest as well as the juice. You can also use Thai Basil in the place of, or indeed alongside the coriander.

 

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