By Ozoz Sokoh
I never think of mangoes and think sweet recipes or bakes. Rarely do I even think of cooking with them. My bad, perhaps. It’s that the few times I’ve tried to….have been ‘just-there’ experiences. No earth-shattering moments, nothing.
Mangoes, the fruit of a tropical evergreen tree, generally taste sweet and have fruity, creamy and floral flavours, often with a hint of resin; The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit.
My thoughts always hover around eating them out-of-hand, or having them savoury. Making a salad, some herbed Asian-influenced salad that brings herbs and chilies into the mix.
This salad is one of the better, if not best things I’ve concocted with mangoes, not to mention simple. Take fresh, sliced mangoes, toss them in a green, herbed paste that is sweet, spicy and sour, salty and herby to boot. Live happily ever after.
Food52 Review: Kitchen Butterfly’s Mango Slaw was simply delicious! The yin and yang of the sweet mango and mint, paired with the spicy green chili and garlic, ‘popped’ in your mouth with every bite. This slaw is great on its own or served alongside grilled meats and fish.
This green paste is the mother of all green pastes, the recipe bequeathed to me by my late friend, Renu.
It was herby with fresh flavours from mint, hints of green citrus from the coriander, a whiff of heat from green chillies and grated ginger, perfectly salted and sweetly balanced with some sugar.
And according to the latest addition to my library, The Flavour Thesauruspublished by Bloomsbury and written by Niki Segnit, Mangoes and Cilantro are a match made for the plate and palate.
So it was that walking around a Sunderland shopping mall, I happened upon a bookstore. One on my favourite things. Of course, I’ve sworn myself of buying cookbooks this year for I have thousands, well hundreds….both digital and physical. Well, till I happened upon this book. Technically, it isn’t a cookbook and so is exempt from my ‘self-promise’.
It is a wonderful compendium of flavour pairings, recipes and ideas for the creative cook. It looks at spice and herb combinations and fruit and all sorts of wonderful things begin to happen to me. I break out in smiles, chuckle, laugh, mentally hug all the possibilities.
Mango has a great affinity for coriander leaf, sharing pine, citrus and floral notes, ant the two are frequently paired in Asian and Mexican dishes, Its striking, given how polarising their flavours can be, to reflect how popular mango and coriander have become in the last ten years; The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit.
Herby Mango Salad Ingredients
THE CAST: CENTRE – GINGER & GARLIC PASTE; LEFT – CORIANDER LEAVES/ CILANTRO; BACK – MANGOES; RIGHT – MINT LEAVES2 medium-sized just-ripe mangoes, washed then peeled with a vegetable peeler
A handful of fresh coriander leaves, washed and snipped with a pair of scissors
A handful of fresh mint leaves, washed and snipped with a pair of scissors 1 – 2 teaspoons ginger & garlic paste
1 – 2 small green chili peppers
Salt, to taste
Caster sugar, to taste
Optional: Sliced/shredded iceberg lettuce
Optional: Quartered cherry tomatoes, to garnish
Peel the mangoes – this is easiest with a vegetable peeler as it takes off the skin cleanly without damaging the flesh.
Slice the mango thinly. I like to get 2 slices off each cheek, each just under a centimetre thick.
Julienne (cut into thin strips) the slices.
Take a break. A breather. Especially if you’ve had a long day at work. Gnaw on the mango stone like a baby with a bone. If you’re Nigerian, Indian or Hawaiian.
Using a mortar and pestle or in a food processor, make a paste of the coriander and mint leaves, garlic cloves, green chilli, salt and sugar.
Taste the paste and adjust flavours – it should be sweet, slightly salty with a touch of green heat.
Admire the paste before you stir it into the julienned mango.
Check and adjust seasoning again with more sugar and salt.
Your salad is set. Consume immediately…or….
…Refrigerate and serve with meats. You could also make more of a salad of it, piled on top of the shredded lettuce with a garnish of tomato quarters.
Enjoy the fruits of the season. And other things. Like acquisitions.
With love (from a train on its way to Southampton! Oh what glorious wonders technology provides!)
Ozoz Sokoh is Nigerian-born, Liverpool-schooled (in part) and now living and working in Nigeria. For more information and posts visit: http://www.kitchenbutterfly.com/