Friday, October 12, 2012

Thai Green Mango Salad or “Yum Ma-muang”

It’s so hard to find the right green mango here in Los Angeles to make this salad. When I said the “right” green mango, I meant the green mango that is still green and very sour. The green mangoes I can find here are mostly from Central America which they aren’t really sour. You might think that I’m being picky but they aren’t just the “right sour” that I’m looking for. 

Ma-muang Ok Rong is the mango used for this dish, and it’s very sour when it’s still green, but It becomes surprisingly super sweet when it ripe!    “Ok-Rong”  literally means “cleavage.”  Because it has a deep crease along from its stem down to almost the bottom of it, who gave it a name you might ask. Well, I dunno! Somebody who has some sense of humor may be! And mango, in Thai, is ma-muang.
I remembered the “Ok-Rong” mango tree from my childhood at my grandmother’s house that full of fire ants!   Every summer the whole family loved to pick them while they were still green and we made spicy green mango salad in the hot summer days.  And here was the funny story about it.  There was one time my cousin and I, we both were about 10 years old, made this salad SUPER SPICY and we dared each other to eat and whoever stopped  first was a looser.   I remembered we were all crying and eating and laughing and jumping ups and downs at the same time trying to win over each other.   But at the end, my cousin won. There was no prize but the bragging right!   We continued to laugh and cry for another hour while gulping down ice cold water and a little dash of salt on the tongue (we believed that salt helped fight off the spiciness!) until the burning had slowly cooled down. My spicy addiction, I supposed, was started from then. 

Spicy green mango salad can be made with or without dried baby shrimp which most people seem to shy away from using them. But I grown up with them, and believe me, those tiny salty dried baby shrimp will make salad tastes a lot better. As for chili, fresh or dried, both can be used depends on your preference. I used both!  As for mint leaves and the hard-boiled eggs are just my own addition to this dish which you can skip using them, but they absolutely make great addition to the dish.   And make sure you don't forget a handful of toasted cashew nuts or peanuts sprinkling on top for the crunchy yumminess.    Now, you gotta try it and let me know what you think.

What you need:

1 large very green mango peeled and julienned
1/4 cup dried baby shrimp, soaked in water for a few minutes and rinsed well
4 medium shallots, finely julienned
1/4 cup mint leaves, finely julienned
3 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp palm sugar
3 tbsp fresh squeeze lime juice 
1 tbsp dried chili flakes and/or fresh Thai chilies
A handful Unsalted toasted peanuts for garnish (or other nuts of your choice)
2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and quartered - optional 

- Whisk together fish sauce, sugar, lime juice, and dried chili flakes
- Gently toss in mango, shrimp, shallots, peanuts, and mint leaves to blend well - Serve immediately with the garnish of toasted cashew nuts or peanuts and chopped hard-boiled eggs.


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