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09/08/2018

~ Sweet Heat: Island-Style Mango or Pineapple Salsa ~

IMG_2486In my food world, one of the most common background noises is the chatter of friends or family talking about the great price they scored on a basket or flat of prime produce.  It's big news.  Last week I was the one bragging about the flat of perfect mangos I toddled into my kitchen with.  At 2-for-$1, it was exciting news.  On par with fresh pineapple, mangos are my favorite exotic fruit. Similar in taste and texture to peaches, my first taste of this juicy stone fruit came in Thailand, where a mango hedgehog* was served, compliments of the hotel, every morning with breakfast.

In my kitchen, there's no such thing as a surplus of mangos.

IMG_2438The color of a mango is not an indicator of its ripeness.  Similar to the avocado, a ripe mango will give slightly when pressed.

IMG_2471Mango salsa, full of sweet heat, is a favorite of mine served nachos made with jalapeño Jack cheese. That said, it's a show-stopper topper for Mexican Baja-style fish or seafood tacos, and, I serve it alongside Jamaican-style jerk chicken or pork too.  When I don't have mangos, I make it with pineapple.  Yes, of course it can be made with a combination of both, but, I prefer it with one or the other. While I'm generically referring to this condiment as salsa, technically it is a fruit-based pico de gallo.

6a0120a8551282970b01bb08763663970dIn Mexican, "pico de gallo" literally translates to "rooster's beak". Native Mexicans of the Sonoran region explain that serrano chile peppers, a key component of the dish, resemble a rooster's beak.  Also referred to a "salsa fresca",  pico de gallo is a carefully concocted mixture of diced, fresh, uncooked "salad" ingredients: tomato, onion, cilantro, serrano peppers, salt and lime juice.  I simply swap mangos for tomatoes (in my pico de gallo recipe) to make mango salsa.

6 or 7 diced ingredients + 1 bowl = fresh & rustic salsa...

IMG_2446... with a crisp, clean burst of sweet & spicy heat in every bite.

IMG_2447For the mango pico de gallo:

3-3 1/2  cups 1/2"-diced split and pitted ripe mango flesh/fruit, from 3 ripe mangos, or diced pineapple

1  cup small-diced red bell pepper

3/4  cup each: small-diced red onion and minced, fresh cilantro

1-1 1/2-2  tablespoons fine-diced red serrano chile pepper, for mild, medium or hot, heat control 

1 1/2-2  tablespoons lime juice, fresh or high-quality store-bought not from concentrate

1/2-3/4  teaspoon sea salt, to taste

IMG_2722 IMG_2722 IMG_2722 IMG_2722~Step 1.  With the aid of an Oxo mango splitter-pitter, split and pit the mango.  Use a tablespoon to scoop the fruit from the flesh of each half.  Don't have a mango splitter?  Get one ($12.00).

IMG_2451 IMG_2451 IMG_2451 IMG_2451 IMG_2451 IMG_2451~Step 2.  Place the diced red onion, red bell pepper, and serrano chile pepper in a medium bowl.  Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of lime juice and 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt.  Stir, then set aside about 10 minutes.  Add and stir in the cilantro, followed by the diced mangos (or pineapple).  Set aside at room temperature for 10 more minutes, then, stir and taste.  Add the additional salt and/or lime juice if you feel the mixture needs it -- I added no salt or additional lime juice today.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, and up to 6 hours, to allow flavors to marry, prior to serving chilled or at room temperature.  While the mango or pineapple pico de gallo is marinating, stir it 3-4 times throughout this time, whenever it's convenient.

As a condiment to Caribbean-style plantain chips...

IMG_2482... or a topper for Texican-style jalapeño Jack nachos...

IMG_2523... mango or pineapple salsa lights my sweet & savory fire:

IMG_2513Sweet Heat:  Island Style Mango or Pineapple Salsa:  Recipe yields 4 cups salsa.

Special Equipment List: mango splitter-pitter; cutting board; chef's knife; large rubber spatula; 4-cup food-storage container w/tight fitting lid

Mango_hedgehog*Cook's Note:  In order of largest to smallest mango production, India, China, Thailand, Indonesia, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean (followed by frost-free areas of the USA) lead the world.  Because of it's large center pit and thick skin, unlike the peach, in order to eat this juicy fruit out-of-hand, the "hedgehog" technique is applied.  Once split and pitted, the flesh is scored into squares, then each concave half is picked up and the skin is pressed to a convex shape with the thumbs.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2018)

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