Salsa is another basic technique that gets used a lot in the DadCooksDinner household. To make a salsa, dice and combine the following: onion, pepper, herbs, and…fruit. Yes, fruit. Remember, tomato is a fruit, not a vegetable.
After tomatoes and tomatillos, my favorite fruit to use in salsa is mangoes. Mango salsa makes a great side dish for chicken, pork, and fish. It has a sweet/hot combination that goes particularly well with grilled food. Also, mangoes make me think of the tropics; I love the effect it has on the the flavor profile a meal.
*Since I’m writing this in February, anything that makes me think of the tropics is a good thing.
- 2 mangoes, pitted, skinned, and diced
- 2 green onions, trimmed and sliced thin
- 1 jalapeno pepper, diced (seeds removed if you like milder salsa)
- 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
- leaves 1 sprig of thyme
- juice of 1/2 lime
- salt and pepper to taste
1. Toss and season salsa: Put the mangoes, onions, jalapeno, red pepper, cilantro, and lime juice in a medium bowl, and toss until evenly mixed. Taste, and add salt and pepper to taste. You want an even combination of sweet from the mango, sour from the lime, a little heat from the jalapeno, and salty from the salt.
*Spicy: Skip the red pepper, and add another diced jalapeno. The sweet/hot taste combination of mango and the jalapeno is why this salsa is one of my favorites. I like it with the red pepper, though, because I like the red/yellow/green color combination you get that way.
*Onions: Substitute 1/2 of a red onion, or sweet onion (like a Vidalia onion) for the green onions.
*Herbs: Substitute 1/4 bunch of cilantro or parsley, minced, for the thyme.
*Pineapple: Replace the mango with diced pineapple.
*Pitting and dicing a mango: Mangoes are a challenge to dice, if you don’t understand their anatomy. Mangoes have a large, flattened oval pit that you have to cut around. The pit follows the shape of the mango – they have a wide side and a thin side. I use the “hedgehog” technique of cutting a mango. I remove the sides of the mango from the pit, then dice them on the skin.
To do the hedgehog, start your knife at the top of the mango, slightly to one side of the center line. Cut until you feel the pit, then run your knife along the side of the pit, exiting at the bottom of the mango. Repeat on the other side, cutting another fillet of mango away from the pit. Then, using a dull knife or a spoon, cut the dice into the flesh of the mango, without cutting through the skin. Finally, use a spoon to cut the diced mango away from the skin.
*See the middle picture, above, for what this should look like about halfway through. If I’m not explaining this well, check out the National Mango Board’s explanation: How To Cut A Mango
*As I mentioned in the opening, this is a very flexible side dish. It adds a punch of sweet heat to a dish, and goes really well with sauteed or grilled meat. You’ll see it as the side dish to the salmon saute I’m doing later this week. It also makes a great topping for a salad – Diane used up the leftovers on her lunch salad the day after the I finished the pictures for this post.
What do you think? Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.
Pam Anderson’s basic salsa technique in How To Cook Without A Book
(And check out her blog: ThreeManyCooks.com)
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