Grilled Mango Salad
You would think it would be the fact that I'm a different religion or race, but if there's one thing that I think will keep me from being 100% incorporated into my wife's family, it's my lukewarm embrace of mangoes. Don't get me wrong, I like mangoes, but for me, I enjoy them the most when they're incorporated into a larger dish in some manner, while they're the fruit by which to measure all other fruits for the in-laws. You'll find evidence of how I eat mangoes throughout this site with things like mango-habanero wings or shrimp, mango salsa, or mango and pork skewers. This sweet and spicy grilled mango salad is the most mango-forward dish I've done, but it's still mangoes plus something else, and that's one of the many reasons I personally loved it.
Now that a couple local groceries pretty regularly carry the sweeter Ataulfo variety of mangoes, that's the type I typically buy. They are smaller and more tender though, and I for the purpose of grilling, it was more desirable to actually have larger and firmer pieces of fruit for ideal handling over a hot fire. So I picked up a few of the standard bearer mangoes in American groceries and chose fruit that felt slightly tender and ripe, but with a little firmness to them too.
To prep the mango, I cut off either side around the pit, and then the remaining tender fruit on the sides. I then cut those all up into roughly one-inch thick strips and used a paring knife to remove the skin. In my earlier days of cooking, I used a vegetable peeler to remove the skins from mangoes first, but the fruit is slippery once the peel is gone, which made the process daunting as the mango slid from hands, causing the peeler to nick my skin on more than one occasion. So I've ditched that method for others that I find easier and less risky.
Besides mangoes being used as part of a dish, the other trend you'll find in my recipes is pairing this fruit with something spicy. The intense sweetness and fruitiness of mangoes just tastes so good with a contrasting heat that I can't help myself from falling back on this combo again and again, and I did it one more time here by using jalapeños as a heat source. Since I had the grill going, I opted to roast the peppers first, charring them all over, then letting them rest in a covered bowl until cool enough to handle, and finally removing the skins and roughly chopping. I wasn't sure how much heat I was going to need when I set out to develop the recipe, so you see two jalapeños in the photo here, but I found one to be sufficient as I made the dressing later on.
I think this recipe would work well with or without grilling the mangoes and jalapeños, but I welcome the extra depth a live fire provides. Since it doesn't take that long to cook both of these fruits, I feel like this recipe is best done when you have the grill fired up already for a main or something else and you can spare the short extra time it takes to get some nice coloring on the mango slices, which only takes a minute or two per side with high heat.
Once the mangoes where done, I chopped them into half inch cubes and I made the dressing. This was influenced by all the Thai cooking I've been doing of late, starting with the lime juice base whose acidity I balanced with a bit of palm sugar. Then I added a heavy dose of mixed herbs, using cilantro, mint, and scallions. After whisking in the jalapeños and judging the spiciness, I seasoned the dressing lightly with salt.
Then to make the final salad, I put all the mangoes in a medium bowl, added in some thinly sliced shallots, poured in the sauce, and tossed until it looked and tasted well dressed.
This may have been my favorite incarnation of mangoes I've tasted to date. I'm a sucker for the sweet, sour, spicy, and herbal combo of Thai cuisine, and this had all of that going on. I had made this to serve as a side dish and worried the sweet mangoes might still taste too dessert-y, but that was not the case at all. The lime and jalapeños really gave the dish its savory tilt and it was a very fitting accompaniment with some chicken skewers and flatbread I had also grilled up that afternoon. For me, this represents mangoes at their best—featuring the fruit in a dish and playing off its strengths—but I'm sure I'll lose some points with the fam just by saying that because, to them, there's no improving on the mango in its raw state.
Grilled Mango Salad
- Yield 4 servings
- Prep 10 Minutes
- Cook 10 Minutes
- Total 20 Minutes
- 1 medium jalapeño pepper
- 4 ripe mangoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch thick wedges
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
- 2 tablespoons chopped mint
- 1 tablespoon palm or light brown sugar
- 1/3 cup thinly sliced shallots
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Place jalapeño on grill and cook, turning occasionally, until completely charred all over, about 5 minutes total. Transfer jalapeño to a medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside until cool enough to handle.
- Place mango wedges on grill and cook, turning occasionally, until lightly browned all over. Transfer mango to a cutting board and cut into 1/2-inch cubes.
- Remove charred skin, deseed, and finely mince jalapeño.Transfer jalapeño to a small bowl. Add in lime juice, cilantro, mint, and brown sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved.
- Transfer mango to a medium bowl, add in dressing and shallots, and toss to combine. Transfer salad to a serving bowl and serve hot or at room temperature.