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Hot and sweet

I regret to inform you that we have now reached, it seems, the time of year when I can hardly motivate to cook a single thing. Uh oh.

Maybe you know the feeling? I hope so. For me, the problem is not so much the heat, although that’s certainly part of it. Here in Seattle, it only occasionally gets too hot for the stove, but when it does, it’s memorable. Last week, I was working on developing a recipe for pâté de campagne, and I can now say with a good deal of authority that pork fat is not at all pleasant to work with when the ambient temperature of your house is approximately 80 degrees. Also, though sweat is not a traditional ingredient in country pâté, mine contained a decent amount of it. It’s a good thing I went easy on the salt.

But heat aside, the main reason for my near-complete lack of desire to cook is that summer doesn’t want me to. Its best foods - all the fruits and vegetables at the market right now - want little in the way of preparation. They want to be left alone, allowed to do what they do. Today, for lunch, I ate tomatoes and mozzarella and olive oil, and for dessert, I had some raspberries. In just a minute, I might have some cold peanut butter on a spoon. For dinner, we’re going to make a salad, and I’m not sure what else. This is a little bit troubling, especially when I’m supposed to show up here with a recipe for you.

Luckily, our friends Matthew, Laurie, and Iris invited us to dinner on Saturday night, and Matthew, by some miracle, actually cooks in the summertime. He is a very good friend to have. He also, incidentally, writes an excellent blog and is a contributor to Gourmet.com. If you haven’t read him yet, do. For our dinner, he made a Thai green mango salad, gai lan in a brothy peanut-coconut sauce, mackerel with ginger and other aromatics that I ate too fast to identify, and rice. (For my part, I brought along some pâté, albeit not the one that I sweat into. Only the best for my friends!) Everything was delicious - this bite spicy, the next bite rich, the third one a little tangy - but I was especially smitten with the mango salad. It was cool and sour, hot and sweet, and utterly refreshing. Brandon declared that he wanted to eat it every day until the end of summer. So, before we left, I asked Matthew if he would share his recipe, and he generously agreed.

Aside from julienning the green, unripe mango, which can be a bit tricky at first, this salad is as easy as it gets. If you’re accustomed to doing any sort of Thai or Vietnamese cooking, you might even have some of the ingredients already on hand. Basically, you just toss julienned mango with scallions, bird’s eye chilis, and macadamia nuts. (This last ingredient is an unconventional tweak that Matthew invented - peanuts, I think, are the norm - but it’s absolutely delicious.) Then you make a traditional dressing of fish sauce and lime juice in equal parts, sweeten it with a modicum of sugar, and toss it into the mango mixture. It’s a bit monochromatic, as you can see in the photograph above, but it makes up for its lack of color with loads of flavor, which, the way I see it, is a perfectly fair trade. (Anyway, if you want to gussy it up, just serve it with a few shrimp curled on top; that’s very pretty.) We made it last night, and seeing as Brandon just came home from running errands with another green mango, we’re apparently making it again tomorrow. I cannot complain.

P.S. A number of you have written to inquire about the absence of my column from the August issue of Bon Appétit. I apologize for the scare! For a number of reasons, the August issue just had to be a bit shorter, that’s all. I’ll be back in the next one.

Green Mango Salad with Macadamia Nuts
Adapted from Matthew Amster-Burton

You can often find green, unripe mangoes at Asian grocery stores. Here in Seattle, we bought ours at Uwajimaya. Choose specimens whose skin has no (or few) wrinkles, and that feel hard as rocks. When you peel them, their flesh should be pale yellow - if it’s orange, Matthew warned me, they’re too ripe - and when you taste a piece, it should be firm and crunchy.

This salad scales up easily, if you want to serve more people. You could also try playing with other additional flavorings, such as Thai basil, cilantro, or dried shrimp. Every recipe for this salad seems to differ a bit, so I imagine it would be hard to go wrong.

For the salad:
2 green mangoes
2 scallions, white parts only, sliced very thinly
1 bird’s eye (also called Thai) chili, some seeds removed, sliced very thinly
1 small handful of macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped
Sautéed shrimp, optional

For the dressing:
2 Tbsp. Thai fish sauce
2 Tbsp. lime juice
1 Tbsp. sugar

Using a vegetable peeler, peel the green mangoes. At this point, you have a couple of options for how to cut them into thin strips. You can use use a mandoline fitted with the julienne attachment, for one, or you can do the following, which, once you get the hang of it, is pretty easy:

Set one peeled mango on a cutting board, oriented so that its pit runs horizontally like an equator and the stem end is closest to you. Using a sharp knife and steadying the mango carefully with one hand, make a cut down the center, running the length of the fruit. Let the knife glide all the way down to the pit. Next, make a series of similar cuts to the right of and parallel to this first one, each about 1/8th of an inch apart. (These instructions are for right-handed people; lefties will be more comfortable moving to the left.) As you get out toward the edge, where there is no pit, let the knife cut all the way through, and then set aside that piece of flesh; you will julienne it by hand in a minute. Then spin the mango around and make a series of cuts on the other side of the first one. When you’re finished, the mango should look a bit like you ran a comb very sternly down its length. Pick it up in one hand, and, with the other hand, use a vegetable peeler to shave it into strips. This works best if you start the peeler at the far end and, holding the fruit steady with the thumb of the peeling hand, pull the peeler toward you. Repeat until you reach the pit. Then flip the fruit over, make more slits on the other side, and peel again. Discard the pit, and repeat with the second mango. Then julienne the remaining pieces of flesh by hand.

Toss the mango with the scallions, chili, and macadamia nuts.

In a small bowl, whisk together the fish sauce, lime juice, and sugar. Toss with the mango mixture to taste.

If you’re not eating immediately, chill the salad for up to an hour or so, until you do. Top with sautéed shrimp, if you like.

Yield: About two servings, or enough to feed four as a small starter


Anonymous SarahKate said...

Yum! That sounds like summer on a fork to me. Can't wait until the weather warms up Down Under and I can try this. Thanks to your lovely friend for sharing the recipe!

6:12 PM, July 07, 2008  
Anonymous Ann said...

Thanks for this recipe. I'm not usually a salad eater but if it's covered in fruit and nuts I am usually perfectly happy. This looks like a great way to not turn on the stove in the heat.

6:21 PM, July 07, 2008  
Blogger Ashleigh said...

Thanks for the note about your column.
I paged through my issue at least three times in a desperate search. (Seriously.)

6:29 PM, July 07, 2008  
Blogger Bijoux said...

Hi - I just wanted to say that I pop in on your blog from time to time and really enjoy your candid posts and delicious looking recipes.

I have practically given up on cooking over the past few weeks due to several factors such as laziness and not wanting to stand over a hot stove.

Fresh salads and summer fruits are such a gift to us living in colder climates, that when summer does arrive, who wants to spend it indoors cooking? Not I :)

p.s. I also have a subscription to Bon Appetit magazine and eagerly anticipate the magazines arrival so I can read your monthly article.

7:34 PM, July 07, 2008  
Blogger belvedere beads said...

seriously, i 'served'coconut popsicles for supper tonight - it was so hot and humid and we were so lethargic. tomorrow i am planning to go (early) to our public market. perhaps if there are mangos your salad would be perfect for tomorrow's dinner, i'm sure i could find the energy to stir and chop...it sounds so delicious.

7:36 PM, July 07, 2008  
Blogger mamster said...

Thanks, Molly! When I make it I put in four or five chiles. Not that I'm calling you a wimp or anything. I think I have like four taste buds.

8:58 PM, July 07, 2008  
Blogger Lucy said...

Handfuls of coriander (cilantro) tossed through it are rather fabulous, too.

10:07 PM, July 07, 2008  
Blogger Susan said...

I actually pan fried chicken tonight... But then, the AC is on :) That salad looks lovely, I haven't had it since I was in Thailand, I might have to make some.

10:10 PM, July 07, 2008  
Blogger chira said...

this sounds like a close version to my ultimate favorite traditional thai dish...
som tum.


p.s. i made your buttermilk cookies with lemon zest and they were a hit! and to add, i am not a baker. so you inspired me to say the least.

11:08 PM, July 07, 2008  
Blogger yola said...

Mmmm, green mango reminds me of my trips to visit relatives in the Philippines. We pop those slices like they're candy, yum! This certainly sounds like a great way to spice it up.

ps: I've been eating your French chocolate granola for almost two months straight and I still love it. LOVE. IT. Merci!

12:26 AM, July 08, 2008  
Blogger Just the Right Size said...

Whew! I was worried about your column. I'm not a big fan of mango, but even more, I have never heard of eating green ones!

We can grow them down here (Florida), but I'd rather have your Washington berries!

5:18 AM, July 08, 2008  
Anonymous S for Kitchen Confit said...

Given the heat we've been having lately, a nice summer salad sounds like the perfect summer food. Will have to try this one if I can find green mangos.

8:16 AM, July 08, 2008  
Anonymous Pirouette said...

Any recipes that fit for hot summer weather here in LA are fabulous, esp. as we are about to enter another heat wave. Look forward to your next column in Bon.

9:11 AM, July 08, 2008  
Blogger Maryn McKenna said...

If you're going to Uwajimaya anyway, you might consider getting a mango/papaya shredder. (I haven't been to the Seattle store, but every Asian grocery I've ever been to has one, never above $5.) It looks like an old-school lemon zester, but with a line of "zest" holes arranged perpendicularly to the handle, and it makes super-short work of shredding. I know it's a one-use-only tool (hangs head in shame) but it makes the task so much easier; also, cheap.

9:55 AM, July 08, 2008  
Blogger Worst Cook Ever said...

I usually eat only sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, covered with chopped garlic and drizzeled with olive oil and balsamic -- topped with a crazy amount of basil and a few shavings of parm. What else do you need? Oh yea, ice cold beer... it's too hot to drink water!

9:59 AM, July 08, 2008  
Blogger Aaron said...

Yum! I'll definitely be eating that some time soon. I don't usually eat salad that much but it seems really enjoyable!

10:10 AM, July 08, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just dropping by to say I love, love, love your blog. I'm a newish reader, but I've yet to meet a recipe of yours I didn't love...or adore, even. I live in Florida(you think your kitchen is hot?) but I am still eating your spinach/garlic soup for lunch almost every day. I expect to turn a lovely shade of green any day now. I've passed out the recipe like a zealot. I too was "concerned" when I didn't see your column this month. I retraced my steps through the mag, then (novel thought) checked the contents. Will look forward to your return next issue. ( :

10:15 AM, July 08, 2008  
Blogger teryll said...

Summer brings on casual eats and treats, I've had a salad similar to this and it's to die for. Of course, throw Thai food at me and I would probably bark. LOL!

11:06 AM, July 08, 2008  
Blogger Ellie said...

Oh good. I'm not the only one. This sounds like the perfect recipe to get me out of my carryout slump.

11:20 AM, July 08, 2008  
Blogger Jennifer said...

i was always scared of mangos - until one day when brandon showed me how to cut it; feeling for the pit that is usually slightly off-center, then scoring it in a sort of grid-like pattern and slicing off the cubes. that was during one of his last days at 125th street, before you whisked him to the west coast :) i can now proudly say that a simple salad of strawberries and mangos is one of my summer favorites :)

12:21 PM, July 08, 2008  
Anonymous ashley said...

True, cooking in a hot summer kitchen feels like you're in some sub-level of Dante's inferno. This sounds delicious! My husband and I practically live off of super fast home-made fish tacos with red cabbage slaw and avocado all summer. Like 4 times a week. It's that easy. Ice cubes in the bra are always nice...

12:34 PM, July 08, 2008  
Blogger Maryann said...

So true! Everything begs to be eaten in it's natural state :)

1:38 PM, July 08, 2008  
Anonymous Willi said...

Mmm! Sounds so good. Can't wait to make it. I was wondering though, my husband is a vegetarian. Do you know of an acceptable substitute for fish sauce so he can eat it, too? If not, oh well! More for me :)

1:45 PM, July 08, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I so agree with a kitchen strike in the summer! Why waste all those good flavors by cooking them?

I really hope this doesn't sound obnoxious...but I'm a long-time reader, have read every single entry, and love, love, love this blog. But I have noticed that recently your photos are consistently shot from above and far from the food-- I really miss your beautiful close-ups and the variety of shots you used to take! Of course, you have to go the direction the muse takes you, but just thought I'd offer my completely unsolicited (and bossy??) two cents worth...

9:03 PM, July 08, 2008  
Anonymous Su-Lin said...

Thank you so much for this post! My mother taught me the same salad a few years ago and I was prompted to go straight home yesterday and make the same thing...but with coriander too (yummy!). I'd never thought of putting nuts in there too but they worked a treat!

3:05 AM, July 09, 2008  
Anonymous lexi said...

what can u do instead of fish oil for the vegg's? many thanks

6:06 AM, July 09, 2008  
Blogger Molly said...

Hi all.

For those of you inquiring about vegetarian substitutes for fish sauce, you might try looking for vegetarian fish sauce. I have never tried it, but I have heard that it exists, and that it can often be found in Asian (especially Vietnamese) markets. So keep an eye out for it! I have also heard that Bragg's Liquid Aminos, which is available in health food stores, is a decent substitute.

And Matthew, I AM NOT A WIMP. Your salad was bigger than ours, dude. (How many mangoes did you use, anyway?) I'm guessing that the chili-to-mango ratio was about the same...

Maryn, I'm going to look for that shredder thing! Thanks for the heads-up. We made this salad again last night, and I would have loved to try shredding it that way. (Except that, as it turned out, our mango was a little teensy bit too ripe, so it might not have worked well. But whatever.)

11:36 AM, July 09, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This seems to be a version of goi xoai xanh, Vietnamese green mango salad or the similar Thai dish yum mar mour. People allergic to mangoes (and there are quite a few allergic to the skin of mangoes as the toxin is related to poison ivy) might want to make the papaya version, som tom, the Thai salad traditionally made with green papaya, fish sauce, chilis, dried shrimp, coriander leaf, etc.

12:06 PM, July 09, 2008  
Anonymous Helen said...

What perfect simplicity. When it gets a bit hotter here in London I will make this. All we have at the moment is bloomin' rain! I love your description of how to cut the mango, it actually makes sense!

5:49 AM, July 10, 2008  
Anonymous EB said...

I was having this exact dilemma this week! The produce is so amazing right now. And it's just too hot (melty pork fat ew!) I just let myself eat lots of fresh veg with a few drops of vinegar and I've been downing fruit like all the fruit trees might disappear in a fire or something... oh wait....

6:52 AM, July 10, 2008  
Anonymous sorina said...

You have a nice blog...keep up the good job:)

11:13 AM, July 10, 2008  
Blogger Carol said...

Thankfully I read your note about your column before calling Bon Appetit! I was going to cancel my subscription if they were not going to continue having you as a contributor!

You are a gift! Carol

3:14 PM, July 10, 2008  
Blogger godines said...

i wish it was too hot to cook here in buenos aires. it's the middle of winter now, and i'm almost envying the fact that it's summer there. seattle is beautiful and green. anyway, love your blog, it's really warm (metaphorically speaking!) and personal. pleaseee, remember that is winter in the southern hemisphere, maybe you can sneak a nice winter recipe for us down here.. hugs!

5:52 PM, July 10, 2008  
Blogger Lina said...

I know that feeling all too well. hehe

8:34 PM, July 10, 2008  
Blogger Nikki Miller-Ka said...

Hi, Molly. I've been reading your blog for a while now. Today is a first for me commenting. When I first started my own food blog, I looked to yours for inspiration because it was one of the 1st ones I'd ever read.

'Tis the season for Vietnamese fare, methinks. I made a cha gio salad yesterday. Too hot for much of anything else.

8:42 PM, July 10, 2008  
Anonymous justfoodnow said...

Every time I read your blog it just gets better! Pâté de campagne in a a boiling hot kitchen - not my idea of a relaxing afternoon. Suggestion about the veggies, though - eat them raw! I am South African and we eat a lot of veggies raw since they can be sliced, grated and marinated in a variety of sauces, oils, vinaigrettes and what have you and kept refrigated for ages. Just an idea .....

Thanks for your blog, though - I try and read it as often as I can!

1:32 PM, July 11, 2008  
Anonymous Caroline Cummins said...

Glad you're spreading the Amster-Burton word. He also writes a column (http://www.culinate.com/columns/bacon) for us, and we talked him into sharing some of his pad Thai recipes on our site: http://www.culinate.com/columns/bacon/phat_pad_thai. Enjoy!

4:06 PM, July 11, 2008  
Blogger Doris said...

Wow, that sounds like the Vietnamese papaya salad my mom use to make when I was younger. Instead of the unripe mango, she used unripe papaya and tossed it the fish sauce dressing. Dee-lish! I'll definitely have to try the mango version! ^_^

5:52 PM, July 13, 2008  
Blogger Jill said...

Have you ever tried adding fried, sliced shallots to this salad? I used to work in the offices at Wild Ginger, and would order the Green Papaya Salad with fried shallots all the time for summer lunches. They have this fantastic chewy yet crispy texture combined with a mild, sweet, oniony flavor. Of course, boiling oil doesn't sound particularly fun given the current temperature in Seattle, but if you're feeling ambitious, they are really tasty.

3:48 PM, July 14, 2008  
Blogger Molly said...

Jill, I am woefully late in responding to your comment, but oooh yes, we LOVE fried shallots! Have you gone to Green Leaf, in the International District? They use lots of fried shallots, and they have such a lovely, lovely flavor...

2:49 PM, July 17, 2008  
Anonymous erin said...

Now that the weather is nice I am going to cook this up and enjoy with the family!!

9:15 AM, July 18, 2008  
Anonymous Chad said...

Outstanding recipe! I mixed in 1 lb of boiled shrimp and served it as a main course. Both my grandmother and my mom went home with the recipe - lovely!

6:58 PM, July 27, 2008  

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