Suzi's Blog

Super Bowl Idea: Brian’s Spicy Mango Salsa


If I say “salsa” what crosses your mind?  To most of us, the “salsa” word immediately pulls up an image of something red, hot, and sitting on a chip.  It’s as if Karl Marx were the Chief Salsa maker with the motto: “Salsas of the world, unite!”

Thank God for diversity.  There is a world of salsas in all colors, flavors, and intensities.   This one offers you an abundance of fruit flavors including mango, banana and plenty of chili warmth.  This salsa can sit proudly on the top of any chip.  It’s also the perfect accompaniment for dishes like chili, nacho, or crab cakes.

As a complement to say, chili, this salsa provides contrast in texture and sparkle.  A chilled salsa is a bright match for stove-hot chili.  This complementary role is achieved without blandness: there is heat in this salsa and it’s appropriately spicy to provide contrast for that chili.

I’ve made this salsa many times and have refined this recipe so that it is quick and easy to make, yet utterly delicious.  In the ingredients below, you see I specify “2” of everything, which makes for each preparation.  The last ingredient, the jalapenos, is the one exception.  I prefer the heat of just one jalapeno but you may want two.  And, as with any salsa, some last minute adjustment of heat, of lime juice, or of sugar may be needed given the sweetness of the fruit.

If you haven’t worked with mangos before, it’s simple.  Just peel and cut off the meat.  That “big” fruit has a big core, so you harvest relatively little meat from each mango.  Don’t try to cut into that core.  If you are pressing with your knife, you’ll be pressing with your teeth and that’s not good salsa.

One word of warning from my lawyer: these are jalapenos so be careful.  You probably think the “warnings” about hot peppers are over done. They aren’t. Wearing rubber gloves is a good idea. Avoiding anything near you eye is important. When I made my last test batch two days ago, I avoided my eye completely. But I did rub my brow once, then went to exercise, sweated, and had to flush my eye with cold water. Please be careful.

Feel free to improvise with this recipe.  You can add cilantro or other spices.  I like this version which has fewer of the “usual” ingredients and gives you a distinctly “new” flavor experience.

 

Brian’s Spicy Mango Salsa

Servings: enough for 4-6 people as a side dish

Ingredients:

  • 2 mangos, the meat cut into medium dice
  • 2 bananas, cut into ¼ inch rounds
  • 2 shallots, cut into medium dice
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 pinches of salt
  • 1 jalapeno, diced with seeds and membrane removed
  • Garnishes: sliced cilantro, scallions, …

Preparation:

Place the diced mango in a bowl, then add the bananas and shallots.  Pour in the lime juice and stir immediately.  The lime juice will help keep the bananas from turning brown.  Add the sugar, vinegar, and salt and stir.  Then add the jalapeno.  Stir to mix, then set aside for five minutes.  Sample the mixture and adjust the flavor to your taste.  You may want more lime juice, sugar, salt, or even vinegar.  Over the next hour the sugar will begin to draw plenty of liquid from the fruit.

Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.

Source: Brian O’Rourke

Muhammara Once Again: Topping Off Your Protein

Last month I posted this recipe for a classic Syrian dip that can only be described as addictive. For your Super Bowl party, I heartily recommend this combination of red peppers, bread, nuts, and spices.

But, I just wanted to mention that Suzen and I have been experimenting with “non-dip” uses. We have tried muhammara on grilled steaks and chicken. The conclusion: very, very yummy. And, there’s a real side benefit here. As a condiment, muhammara is a low salt alternative to, say, steak sauces like Worcestershire sauce. You’ll get a smashingly intense flavor here that is a match for that “ping” in your mouth that comes from biting into the black crust of steak or poultry.

Muhammara or Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Dip

Yield: serves 6 to 8 as a dip

Ingredients:

  • 3 large red bell peppers
  • 1 slice of day-old sourdough bread, cut into small pieces
  • 2/3 cup walnut halves, coarsely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon dried hot pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon sun-dried tomato paste
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra to serve
  • Chopped pistachios, to sprinkle
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Toasted flatbread, roughly torn, to serve

Preparation:

Cook the peppers one at a time by skewering each one on a fork and holding it directly over a gas flame for 10-15 minutes until the skin is blackened all over. Alternatively, put them on a baking sheet and then in an oven preheated to 425°F. Cook them for about 10-15 minutes, until the skin has puffed up and blackened all over. Transfer to a bowl, cover with a kitchen towel, and leave until cool enough to handle.

Using your hands, remove the skin and seeds from the peppers and tear the flesh into pieces. (Avoid rinsing with water as this will remove that desired smoky flavor.). Put the flesh in a food processor and add the remaining ingredients. Process to a coarse paste. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 8 hours or ideally overnight to allow the flavors to fully develop.

To serve, bring the dip to room temperature and transfer to a shallow bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with the chopped pistachios. Serve with torn toasted flatbreads. It will keep in airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.

Source: Home-Grown Harvest from the publisher Ryland Peters & Small