A crisp and refreshing Thai salad made with unripened (green) mango, mung bean sprouts, red pepper, and plenty of cilantro.
The door opens inward, pushing against the rolled up towel that sits at the bottom attempting to block out the raw boreal wind that whips by on the other side. The cold air pushes into the room, demanding to take up space along with Kiera as she enters, stomping fresh snow from her boots. Her backpack swinging off one shoulder, she presses her hip to the door to close it against the wind.
“Hi, Mommy” she quips while balancing on one foot, tugging off the sodden boots as bits of compressed snow fall to the floor. There is extra emphasis on the last syllable of “mommy,” her teenage self finding humor in the childish innocence of the moniker. Calves covered and caked in snow, her gloved hands run along her jeans to brush the heaviest bits off. She starts to her room, the trail of flakes following her. “What’s for dinner?”
In a moment she’s back, head in the refrigerator in search of sustenance to get her through to mealtime. At last she extracts a piece of fruit, all green and orb-shaped, and then another. Carrying both towards me with outstretched hands she asks, “Which one of these is ripe?”
Touching both, I point to one explaining why yet again, knowing we’ve had this conversation year after year at the cusp of mango season. Still, a part of me smiles that while she has no difficulty choosing when I’m out, she still comes to ask my opinion when I’m available.
Avocados, pears, bananas, and mangoes are all on my list of offending produce items that never seem to be ripe when I need them to be. Without fail, if I head to the store hoping to find a ripe one for the night’s meal, I will be met with a table full of the greenest fruit around. If I am looking for a less-than-ripe specimen to bring home and use later in the week, there will be a sea of perfectly ripe fruit laid out before me.
For this salad we’re looking for the greenest mango you can find. It should be firm, even hard when gently squeezed. The flesh lacks the sugary aroma and full mouth sweetness of ripe mangoes, instead harboring a pine-tinged, mouth-puckering tang.
The unripe mango holds up to sweet and sour dressings, and the bean sprouts and red pepper add an extra bit of crunch. We ate this alongside and even on top of the peanut curry, the fresh and crisp character of the salad complementing the richness of the creamy curry.