Spicy-Sweet Thai Mango Salad
Have you ever been on the subway when you see somebody who hacks loudly and belligerently out in several directions, wipes their mouth with the back of their hand, and then reaches up to hold (read: wipe it on) the pole which you were about to grab? You know, the person who you’re fairly certain is deliberately spreading infectious disease throughout the car, because misery loves company? Well, I hate to say it but I think that might be me.
Oh no, don’t get me wrong – I’m not spiteful when sickly. I wouldn’t take pains to kiss someone if I had a cold sore (note: I have never had a cold sore and they terrify me), or deliberately sneeze on a coworker’s telephone hand set because I didn’t like an email they sent. I don’t do these things on purpose, really. But then I think of the time when Mike and I brought home a cat, who it turned out had ring worm, and we didn’t know until it had infected most of our inner circle of friends. But again, that was a mistake! A very itchy and horrible mistake. I swear. Although after showering with Nizoral and using Lamisil as a body cream for almost three months, I still totally deserved it when I got nicknamed The Queen of Contagion.
And it seems that I have done it again, unwittingly though it may be. Mike, who was the kindest male nurse that a girl could ever ask for, is currently in the process of being struck down by whatever affliction I had for the last two weeks. I’m feeling just peachy (top drawer, in fact!) while his nose is dripping sea moss. I have also effectively infected the poor girl who has a cubicle across from me and hasn’t been able to see straight since Friday. And our Admin Assistant. And ‘a few’ others. Okay, ‘a few’ isn’t really accurate. It’s like a viral genocide going on. The halls are ripe with the sounds of spittle and phlegm, and I’m all wide eyed and bushy tailed asking who would like a cup of tea.
I know it’s my fault. I feel rather awful about it, really.
But now that I’m all giddy with my newfound health, I feel like COOKING again! Like, REAL FOOD! I grudgingly asked Mike if he felt like something ‘boring but warm’ like stupid old soup. Thankfully he said no, but I’m certain that it’s only because he thought I’d make it vegan or because he saw the cilantro and lemongrass in the fridge and guessed that things were going elsewhere whether he liked it or not. He wouldn’t have been wrong in that assumption.
You know that they say though, when you have a cold or flu it doesn’t hurt to load yourself up with:
- Spicy peppers to stimulate your body’s responses…and this is spicy.
- Vitamin C….like the kind you get in mangoes.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables. Just because. Your body will say ‘thanks’.
Although a sweet and spicy mango salad may not be traditional sicko food, it certainly doesn’t hurt.
Spicy-Sweet Thai Mango Salad
Serves 4 as a side
- 2 ripe mangoes *
- 1/2 English cucumber
- 1 large red bell pepper
- 1/4 red onion
- small bunch cilantro
- 2 tbsp sambal oelek **
- 2 tsp fish sauce
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1/2 cup chopped roasted peanuts for garnish
* Have you ever had Green Mango Salad? This isn’t it. I love using a ripe, sweet mango in here because it’s in such wonderful contrast to the spicy hot vinegar dressing.
**Sambal oelek is a spicy red chili paste with a little bit of salt, garlic and oil to thin it a tad. If you don’t have sambal oelek, a good substitute is Chinese chili paste, chili-garlic sauce, red chili sauce, sriracha hot sauce, or even harissa in a pinch. And yes, I DID copy those two lines directly from our last post. What of it. Just try to avoid anything labelled ‘sweet chili sauce’, because it will be too mild, too sweet, and not quite the flavor that you’re going for.
Seed the peppers and cut them up into fairly large (about 1/2 inch or slightly more) chunks. Do the same with the cucumbers and peeled mango.
In terms of peeling the mango, if you have a particular way of removing the pit and peeling it, well, go ahead. If not, I suggest holding the mango bum side down and slicing just slightly off center of both flat sides, feeling your way along the pit. Then slice off the thin sides which are left, and any other mango meat which is still on the large flat pit. Take the two ‘cheeks’ of mango meat and slice them into 3/4 ” strips, and use a sharp paring knife to remove the peel in a long strand. Repeat until all of the mango is peeled.
Cut the red onion lengthwise into wedges and then slice each wedge very thinly on the horizontal to make a relatively fine cut. Chop up the cilantro, stems and all. The stems have great flavor and also provide a little bit of fresh watery crunch.
In a small bowl whisk together the rice vinegar, sambal oelek (or chili sauce), and fish sauce. And that’s not a great big bowl, it’s an itty-bitty little whisk.
Pour the dressing over the salad and toss it to combine. Coarsely chop the peanuts for garnish, if you feel the yen, and to be honest I hope you do. Unless you’re allergic. If so, I’m sorry – I’ve caused enough physical distress to people already this week. Please don’t eat the peanuts.
Mike’s comments while eating this salad with dinner were, “WHOOOOEEEEEE, *munchmonge* that’s some spicy sh*t. Munchmunchmungbut mrrwnr it’s mrrrrovrlly good…*munchmongemunch*” So I take that as a victory. Let the spicy chili sauce fight a good war, while the sweet mango battens down the vitamin C hatches and the onions….do what onions do.
I also felt much better after eating this because I’ve been putting on my winter weight since last September…and it hasn’t slowed down. Making a fat free side salad with bold, exotic, satisfying flavors pleased me like punch. Like rum punch, at that.
And if all else fails, put it on a pretty plate. Nothing perks me up quite as much as gaudy ceramic freesias. Sigh.