I eat a lot of green papaya salad at my neighborhood Thai restaurant. The owner jokes that the Thai don’t wait for fruit to be ripe. If they’re hungry, they eat it. And they know how to make it taste incredible. One time his Thai mother-in-law made us a sliced green banana with a sauce over it. I wish I knew what was in that sauce to make a chalky green banana taste so good.
Here’s one thing I have learned that makes a big difference for green fruit salads: deeply roasted peanuts. His mother-in-law gets up early every morning to roast them herself. Even if you buy peanuts already roasted, give them a little extra color and the flavor will be intensified. It makes for better pad thai, too.
I was given this mango and told that I must eat it right away. This variety is meant to be eaten green and unripe. It’s called Mun Kun Si. It’s certainly the best green mango I’ve ever had, crunchy and not too sour, just lemony sweet. I resisted eating it all by itself so I could make this recipe based on one in The Spice Merchant’s Daughter. You can use a regular unripe mango, but if you can find a Mun Kun Si, I highly recommend it.
Green Mango Salad
- 1 green (unripe) mango
- 1 small or 1/2 large jicama, peeled
- 1/2 fresh pineapple, peeled and cored
- 1/2 cucumber
- 1/4 cup unsalted roasted peanuts or cashews
- 2 tablespoons fresh or packaged tamarind pulp*
- 3 tablespoons coconut sugar or brown sugar
- 2 bird’s-eye chiles or other hot chiles to taste, sliced
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- pinch of salt
Roast the peanuts or cashews: Heat the oven to 325, roast them on a baking sheet, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes or until they are deeply browned but not burned. Once the color is achieved, transfer them from the pan to a plate and allow them to cool. Crush them with a mortar and pestle or put them in a plastic bag and pound them with a rolling pin.
Prepare the tamarind: Pour 1/2 cup warm water over the tamarind pulp. Stir it or use your fingers to break it up so it dissolves in the water. Let it steep for 10 minutes. Strain it through a sieve.
Make the dressing: Combine the strained tamarind liquid, coconut sugar, fish sauce, chiles and salt.
Chop the mango, cucumber, jicama and pineapple into bite-sized chunks and place them in a serving bowl. Toss with the dressing and sprinkle the roasted peanuts over the top.
*Fresh tamarind can be found at Asian markets and farmer’s markets in South Florida. You only need 2-3 pods for this recipe. Just break them open and remove the string of pulpy seeds. Break them apart and proceed with the recipe as directed. Tamarind pulp is also sold in packaged blocks. If you can’t find either one, you can substitute the juice of one lime.
Thank you Christina Arokiasamy, The Spice Merchant’s Daughter, for permission to write about her recipes.