Thai Green Mango Salad

So many of the ingredients used in Thai cooking are also used in Latin American cooking. Mango, cilantro, coconut, chile and green onions are familiar friends in the kitchen, and make me think of Caribbean breezes. That could be why I love this salad so. It’s really delicious, cool with a hint of sweet and spicy. While there is a dressing to accompany it, my secret is to make the salad ahead of time (leaving half the coconut, basil and cashews separate) and let it chill in the fridge for at least an hour before serving. That way, all of the flavors have a chance to get acquainted with one another, and their juices begin to intertwine. So, taste it first to decide if you really need to add dressing. I never use it, but if you are making the salad for guests, it will make the experience more complete.
If you like, you can add some braised shrimps or cubed tofu, and magically, the salad turns into a satisfying meal. As always, use your imagination. If there is another ingredient you think would be delightful along with the green mango, give it a try.
2  green mangoes (green means firm, not ripe, but the skin may actually be yellowish or orangish)
1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut (sweetened is okay if you can’t find unsweetened)
2 cups bean sprouts
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3-4 green onions, sliced
a handful of Chinese snow peas
1/3 cup cashews, unsalted
1/3 cup fresh basil
1 Thai chile or chile de arbol, finely minced
lime slices for garnish
SALAD DRESSING:3 tbsp. fish sauce OR 4 Tbsp. tamari soy sauce if eating vegetarian or vegan
1/4 cup freshly-squeezed lime juice
2 tbsp. organic brown sugar, or more to taste
1-2 tsp. Thai chili sauce
1. Place coconut in a skillet or wok without oil. “Dry-fry” the coconut, stir-frying it 2-3 minutes over medium heat, or until it turns a light golden-brown smells fragrant. Place in a bowl and let cool.
2. Mix  all of  the salad dressing ingredients together in a bowl or cup. The dressing will be sweet, sour, salty and tangy.
3. Using a  pairing knife, peel skin from mangoes. The flesh of the mango should be firm and yellow-orange.
4. Using a  grater that you would use to make cole slaw, grate the flesh of the mangoes into a mixing bowl. Discard the pit.
5. Add the bean sprouts, coriander, spring onions,  chile, plus half the toasted coconut. Toss well to combine.
6. Add the dressing if you decide to use it and toss again. You can add more of each  ingredient to the dressing to balance the flavor. Soy makes it salty and lime makes it tangy. Chili sauce brings a spicy sweetness.
7. Place in a serving bowl. Sprinkle the nuts, basil and remaining toasted coconut over the salad. Enjoy!
Note: This salad is made with healthy, natural fruits, vegetables and nuts. Tamari is added instead of regular soy sauce to keep the recipe gluten-free. If you are watching your sodium levels, you may choose to forgo the dressing, or to use a low sodium soy or fish sauce. Shrimp is known for being high in cholesterol, so follow your medical or dietary professional’s advice.
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