Spicy Thai Mango Apple Salad
If you asked me what my favorite flavor profile is, tart, spicy and salty would be it (as well as acidic.) I love any foods that have a clean and refreshing finish, combined with just enough heat to make my taste buds tickle. It’s a classic combination found in many Thai dishes and one I chased after, meal after meal during my time in Bangkok. I spent about a year in total living there between 1998 and 2003, going back and forth from my home base in Tokyo and then Hong Kong. I usually went for a period of six to eight weeks to model for lingerie brands like Wacoal, shoot editorials for Elle and other fashions magazines and shoot commercials for popular brands like Johnson and Johnson.
I lived on a street off Sukhumvit road (one of the main roads) in a model’s
apartment house; on the main floor was the agency, the kitchen and the dining room while the second and third floor had bedrooms and a huge living room. Outside, a vendor stood each day with a cart filled with the freshest and most delicious fruit I’ve ever tasted in my life: pineapples, sweet mango slices, ranbutan, guava, mangosteen, star fruit and sour green mangoes served with chili salt (my ultimate favorite). I must have had at least two bags of fruit a day and walked around with a constant craving for more – unusual for me since I skip fruit on a regular basis anywhere else. Thailand was like an introduction to what good, fresh fruit is all about. It’s now been 10 years since I last visited and still crave the spicy sour combination they do so well.
Luckily, not all Thai food is complicated and recreating this particular flavor profile can be achieved with just a few ingredients. But as far as finding green mangoes, I have given up on the search… If you know where I can find some in NYC, please let me know! This spicy mango apple salad is a take on Vatcharin Bhumichitr‘s spicy mango salad and one I have come to love very much. The mix of sweet, ripe mango and sour granny smith apple is a match made in heaven. Toss them in a little lemon juice, chilies, salt and fish sauce and you will be making that ‘oooh so tart and spicy’ face in no time! Add a few crunchy cashews and some shredded cilantro for a well rounded, cleansing and extremely energizing apple salad.
- 1 green apple, peeled and sliced into strips (julienned)
- 1 small mango, peeled and sliced into strips (julienned)
- 2 small Thai chilies, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 3 tbsp cashews (salted or unsalted)
- 2 shallots, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp cilantro, roughly chopped (optional)
- freshly ground black pepper
- For the dressing:
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp fish sauce (for Paleo Diet, use Red Boat Fish Sauce)
- - Put all the ingredients into a bowl and toss well until all the fruit is coated.
- - Season with freshly ground pepper and serve cold.