A few weeks ago, I went out to dinner at a Thai restaurant with my family, in celebration of my Mom's birthday. Mom started out with a mango salad, something that I'd never tried myself, perhaps due to the mysterious absence of that little V or leaf or whatever symbol the restaurant I happen to be visiting uses to signify that the meal is vegetarian. In this instance I quickly found out why. I leaned over to check out this mango salad and noted a couple curls of bacon on top, along with a strong whiff of fish sauce, an odor I know well due to accidentally ingesting it I don't even know how many times during my early days of eating Thai. The bacon, she informed me, was something she'd never seen used in this particular dish. Being my number one coconut bacon fan, she suggested I blog a version using that as a substitute. Thanks mom!
I figured I had to get on this dish pretty quickly, because I noticed mango prices going up at the supermarket, along with the number of soft, ripe mangoes available going down. I thought mangoes were in season nearly all year. Am I wrong? In any event, I was happy to go out and buy some mangoes right away, and fortunately for me, this dish does not require perfect, ripe mangoes. In fact, it calls for just the opposite. You want to use firm, green, under-ripe mangoes. This way they shred up nicely and retain some crispness.
This salad comes together quick, which is good, because it isn't a make-ahead dish. Throwing everything together right before serving ensures that your mango retains it's nice crispness.
I served this as a meal, alongside some simple pan-fried tofu. Served like this, you will feed two people generously. As an appetizer, skip the tofu and divide it up into four or so servings.
Thai Shredded Mango Salad with Coconut Bacon
2 unripe mangoes
1 cup of bean sprouts
1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp. maple syrup
1 tsp. chili paste
1 tbsp. soy sauce
4 scallions, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup coconut bacon
a few handfuls of your favorite salad greens
Peel mangoes and then shred them into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add bean sprouts, pepper, lime juice, maple syrup, chili paste, soy sauce, scallions and cilantro. Toss everything together. Divide greens among plates, and then top with mango mixture. Sprinkle with coconut bacon.