Summer Mango Salsa

Summer Mango Salsa
Summer Mango Salsa

Apparently it’s mango season. In browsing the grocery store flyers looking for inspiration, I noticed that two of our three chains had mangoes on sale. I’ve never eaten a mango before, but I’ve had mango juice and liked it. So I thought I’d give it a try. Why not, right?

According to the Mango Board, mangoes are ripe when they give a little under a gentle squeeze — like avocados. As I said on Friday, it’s really worth your time to watch the video before deciding you know how to cut a mango. You can make it a lot harder than it needs to be (I sure did), but mangoes are sweet and tropical and taste like summer. If your “spring” as been like ours in New England, you need a reminder that warmer weather is coming. Tropical mango flavor helps.

“Salsa” generally conjures up tomatoes, but fruit salsas are pretty amazing and seem to have a better, brighter balance of flavors for certain main dish meals. (And yes, I know that biologically tomatoes are  a fruit, but US law says they are vegetables). Salsa isn’t the quickest thing ever, but the work that goes in pays amazing dividends in flavor.

This salsa is fine with chips, but if you want to really highlight it, serve it over a meal. Things I think would work well with the summer mango salsa:

  • Shrimp and rice, if you can do shellfish (this was my choice)
  • Chicken, pork, or fish, if any of those work for you
  • Black beans and rice

Let us know what you try so that, if it’s good, we can copy you. I have a feeling I’ll be making this a few more times, and I’d love some new ideas for what to serve it over.

Summer Mango Salsa
Summer Mango Salsa

Summer Mango Salsa

  • 1/2 of a sweet onion, finely diced (this should be between 1/3 and 1/2 cup — adjust according to your love for onion)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 Tablespoons lime juice (I wanted to give you a measurement, but I’ve had to use everything from 2 whole limes to 1/2 a lime to get 2T. It varies widely. I always buy limes in pairs, for whatever reason.)
  • 1 serrano pepper (buy a size commensurate with your love of spice), stem, seeds, and inner membranes removed, diced very finely
  • 1 mango, cut into small cubes
  • 1 avocado, cut into small cubes
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped cilantro

The order of the ingredients above is deliberate. I love onion in my salsa, but I don’t like it too strong. If you chop it first and then let it marinate in the lime juice while you fight with the mango, it mellows out a bit. I’m assuming that the acid “cooks” the onions a bit, as it does for fish in ceviche. If you’re a better food scientist than I am, I’d love to know if this is true; it could just be the power of suggestion.

For the best flavor profile, you want the onions and the chile diced very finely, as finely as you can manage, and the mango and avocado a good bit chunkier (but still, not too big). The onion and chile go into the lime juice first. The mango next, and last the avocado — the avocado will break down the more you stir it, and I like it pretty well intact.

Basically, chop everything up and mix it together in a bowl. This is a very fresh salsa, and it doesn’t need much time to meld — half an hour at room temperature seems to be enough, although it is great the next day. I doubt it would last all that much longer, but I’ve made it a few times now and I’ve yet to test that.

Enjoy your plate of summer.

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