You know how a certain food grabs you and your thoughts for days on end until you eat it one more time, finally satiating your desire and putting you into trance of gastronomic bliss? And then it starts all over again. Tell me I’m not alone.
There’s a neighborhood cafe that offers seasonal specialty salads to die for. Menu items such as oven-roasted sweet peppers with pomegranate vinaigrette & toasted walnuts or beets & beluga lentilswith goat cheese, shallots & balsamic vinaigrette or soba noodleswith chicken, scallions and sesame-ginger vinaigrette or edamame & wild salmonwith scallions and fresh herbs. Who can decide? Luckily this cafe makes it easier by offering a salad trio plate. And that is exactly how my new favorite salad addiction came to be.After taking one bite of Thai mango slaw, I was . This isn’t your ordinary cole slaw, in fact, the only familiar slawish thing about it was some shavings of cabbage and vinegar. What made this salad leap from ordinary to extraordinary was the tangy vinaigrette, ground peanuts and the pairing of cucumbers, jicima, and mango. Have I said enough about mangosthis summer? Mangos, there I said it again.
I set out to make this salad at home because the hankering wouldn’t quit and the cafe changes their specialty salads daily, otherwise they wouldn’t be special. Thanks to a few food experts hereand thereand three attempts, I found my own version to share with you.
Is this the salad you make after a long work day and you race into the kitchen, a kitchen that awaits you with gaping bird mouths? For some, no. I give you super moms a bow and permission to pour yourself a glass of wine and then throw up any old food into your chickens’ mouths. Yet, call me crazy, but I find chopping to be my therapy and solitude “I’m sorry honey, I’ll be with you in one minute right after I julienne these carrots.”
Consider this, even though you’ll be chopping for a 3 or 15 minutes, this salad is like a bite of summer vacation on that’s been loaded with your daily required vegetables and fruits. Further, you can prepare it all in advance adding the vinaigrette just before serving.
thai mango slaw
preptime: 25 minutes
2 c cucumber chunks (1/2″ slices of Persian/Japanese cucumbers that are smaller, or quarter the thicker slices of a regular size cucumber)
1 c cut fresh mango
1 c cut up jicama
1 c thinly sliced cabbage (I prefer the lighter Napa cabbage)
3 green onions chopped
1/4-1/2 c chopped dry roasted peanuts (yum!)
1/4 c chopped cilantro
– pour yourself a fine pino grigio right about now –
6 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 t fish sauce (nam pla)
2 t sugar
1 1/2 t sesame oil
1 t crushed red pepper flakes
juice from 1/2 lime
salt and pepper to taste
- Combine cucumber, onions, jicima and cabbage.
- Gently add in mango.
- For vinaigrette: mix vinegar, fish sauce, sugar, red pepper flakes, and lime juice. Taste and adjust to your liking.
- Pour vinaigrette over salad mixture and gently toss.
- Top with crushed peanuts and cilantro.
- Rice wine vinegar, fish sauce, and sesame oil make this vinaigrette. All three items are found in any super market usually in the Asian food section. They last forever so you can use them to boost any salad or protein. Fish sauce if you’ve never used it, serves as a similar, but better ingredient than soy sauce.
- Cucumbers contain a lot of water which can dilute the flavor of a salad. You can extract the water which will take a few extra minutes, but well worth the time. Simply mix cut up cucumbers with about a tablespoon of salt. Massage the salt gently into the cucumbers and let them stand in a strainer in the sink for about 20 minutes. Then rinse them under cold water and squeeze out any excess water without crushing the cucumbers.
- Buy jicama, mango, or any vegetable already cut up – try Whole Foods or salad bars. Sometimes I bring home an extra container of cilantro from Baja Fresh. Call the authorities.
- Omit or replace any ingredient that’s too hard to find. The beauty of this salad is the mixture of textures and flavors. For mangos, substitute with sweet peaches or maybe watermelon; jicama is rather bland with a slight crunch…hmm, I’m thinking radish.
- Use a smattering of bottled Asian salad dressing, Thai flavored even better.
- Use a vinegar you have on hand and a little soy sauce instead of fish sauce. It will be heavier, so go easy and taste.
recipe provided by your friends at crunchtimefood.com