A few months ago, we were in the San Francisco Bay Area on a house hunting trip. (That trip paid off because we found a house that we'll be moving into very soon!) While on that trip, we met friends at a Burmese restaurant and had the most fun salad I've come across in a while. Today's recipe is my version of that salad. It's tangy and sweet with a bit of salty, savory and spice to round it out.
At the restaurant, they carried the salad out in a large bowl with all the components arranged like you see above. Then they finished it tableside by sprinkling on toasted chickpea flour, tossing everything together, and topping with peanuts and fried onions.
The stars of the salad, as you might have guessed by now, are unripe (green) mango and chickpea flour. The mango is peeled, then grated and tossed with lime juice. It's important that the mango is unripe so it's firm enough to grate and a little tart.
The toasted chickpea flour sounded strange to me at first. But once toasted, it has a nutty flavor and takes on the role of an emulsifier, binding the ingredients together, thickening the liquid slightly and turning the salad creamy.
This salad has a few components, but there's nothing complicated about it. So channel your inner French chef and practice mise en place with this one. Enjoy preparing it, and you will be rewarded.
Green Mango Burmese Salad
Notes: Recipe calls for unripe, green mango. Green mango is one of many varieties (or cultivars) of mango. It's smaller, firm, and sour and usually sold at well-stocked Asian markets. But you can achieve a similar result in this salad by choosing an unripe Alphonso mango, the most popular variety sold at any large grocery store. Look for one that has mostly green skin and is very firm to the touch.
- 2 small unripe (green) mangoes
- 2 Tbsp. chickpea flour
- 2 small cucumbers, seeded and cut into thin half-moon slices
- 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 4 Tbsp. high-heat cooking oil (expeller-pressed coconut oil or ghee)
- Juice from 1 1/2 limes, divided
- Half a small bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
- 1 small green chili, minced (optional)
- 1/2 cup (80 gr.) roasted peanuts, crushed or roughly chopped
- 4 Baby Gems (baby romaine), chopped
- Peel green mangos with a vegetable peeler. Grate the mango flesh into a small bowl. Add the juice of 1 lime (or less if your mango is very sour). Toss and set aside.
- Add chickpea flour to a small skillet over medium heat. Toast, stirring occasionally, for five minutes, or until flour smells nutty. Transfer to a small bowl, and set aside.
- Heat 4 Tbsp. oil in a medium saute pan over medium to medium-low heat. Once hot, fry onion in batches, until lightly golden brown (~ 5 minutes). Remove with tongs to paper-lined plate to cool and crisp up. Reserve frying oil for salad.
- Add romaine, mango, cucumber, cilantro, green chili if using, and a generous pinch of salt to a large bowl. Sprinkle over chickpea flour, half the peanuts, half the fried onions, juice of 1/2 lime, and a drizzle of the reserved oil. Toss gently. Top with other half of peanuts and fried onions. Serve immediately, and enjoy!