Mango Tango Salsa!

16 Nov

It was almost too late for that poor mango, bought in a frenzy of nostalgia for the tree my grandmother planted in her backyard in Mayagüez, a Puerto Rican town celebrated for its delicious, juicy, juicy, sweet, meaty, fiber-free mangos. In June, those suckers drop out of the sky and plop heavily onto the ground where you have to get them before the other critters do. They fall in such quantities that I spent many mornings cutting, slicing, peeling and freezing – you can’t possibly eat them all as they ripen. Friends in San Juan used to love to see me arrive with freezer bags full of Mayagüez mangos; they’d have the blender, booze and ice ready for action before I could even lock my car and get to the front door.

No such welcoming committee for this mango, even after its long journey from Brazil or Mexico or somesuch warm place, after its boring days in a chilly supermarket produce aisle next to a basket of equally foreign avocados, after too many days in the pale fall light of my southern exposure window, defended from attackers by its only company: several very busy spiders and a valiant Venus Flytrap. No, this poor mango was in dire need of attention and accessorizing, as its best days were behind it.

So, Mango Salsa it was, quick and dirty. Good excuse to eat blue corn tortilla chips, which are a weakness of mine (Waterloo to any attempt to get bikini ready) and to further prove that the Spanish love for fruit and cheese is grounded in pure genius and has infinite possibilities. The salsa sweet-tartness and the tortilla crunch just beg to be completed with some salty squeaky cheese – Queso Blanco (the firm kind of Latin white cheese) and Monterey Jack are my choices, but salted mozzarella would likely work also.

So here it is – a one bowl operation, served up in a margarita glass, a neglected mango finally loved up the way it should be.

Mango Tango Salsa

1 cup mango, chopped into small chunks*

1 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded (or not) and chopped into small chunks

3 Tbs red onion, minced

1 Tbs mango-orange juice (or mango or orange)

2 tsp chipotle in adobo paste (spoon it off the chipotles, but don’t include the peppers themselves)

3 tsp freshly squeezed lime juice

1 pinch salt

Put all ingredients into a small bowl. Mix thoroughly, add seasonings to taste, cover and refrigerate until chilled. Serve with sliced Caribbean white cheese, salted mozzarella or Monterey Jack and tortilla chips.

* To cut up a mango, hold it on its side lengthwise on a cutting board and choose a spot about a third of the way in. You want to slice down on either side of the seed so you have two bowls.  Score the flesh of each bowl like a checkerboard and turn it inside out (we call this a porcupine). Slice off the chunks and dice as needed. Yo can also cut flesh off the seed (or just eat the flesh off the seed yourself- you are the cook after all and deserve the treat!)


7 Responses to “Mango Tango Salsa!”

  1. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide November 18, 2011 at 10:54 am #

    Saved just in the nick of time. This looks wonderful!

  2. Bluejellybeans November 17, 2011 at 6:43 am #

    Hi Natalia!
    This is a great idea. My grandparents used to have a Mango tree in the backyard too. And we had an aguacate tree in our backyard in Panama. Actually we used to grow a lot of things (cocos, maiz, guadues, cacao…)
    Now I live in Madrid and don’t grow anything beside some romero, oregano, tomillo oh! And an olive tree!
    The love for our tropical food must be genetic, indeed. Because my kids love Panamanian food, especially mango. The problem is that they are really expensive here, so I don’t buy them that often.
    Gracias por compartir esta receta tan rica.

    • nataliadecuba November 21, 2011 at 7:10 pm #

      It’s so hard to be away from tropical fruits….I have to say that I am still in sync with the tropical seasons even though I now live in the north…in June I start craving mangoes…in August quenepas…

  3. Marita November 17, 2011 at 5:36 am #

    Yummm! I’m loving mangoes this season, especially combined with chilli and lime… will have to try this salsa!

    • nataliadecuba November 21, 2011 at 7:11 pm #

      mmmm, I am with you on the flavor affinities!

  4. quetalunmate November 16, 2011 at 8:37 pm #

    Natalia, this must be delicious… I love mangoes (me too,…I looove to see them on the ground in P.R. and bag them to take them home). Just one question, can you think of any substitute for cucumbers? I do not like them at all. It has to be another crunchy and bitterseet ingredient, right?
    I will try the recipe this weekend. Easy, easy…. Thanks.

    • nataliadecuba November 21, 2011 at 7:11 pm #

      Sorry to take so long to get back to you…a cucumber substitute might be jicama?

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