Thai green mango salad (“yam mao muang”) is my favorite Thai salad to make at home. I make it way more often than som tom – the beloved green papaya salad from the north-eastern Isaan region of Thailand with countless iterations that all locals and most visitors adore. This is because in Thai restaurants yam mao muang tends to be served as a condiment – to fried fish usually – rather than a side dish in its own right. That’s a shame, but reading the blog of my favorite Thai cookbook author provided an easy solution – serve it up with eggs as a simple and delicious meal for one or two. I love this salad as a sidekick to a Western or Thai omelet (aka, “kai jiaow”). The deep fried, oily Thai omelet pairs particularly well with this sprightly unripe mango, chile-lime-fish sauce combo.
But now I want to make a Plant Paradox friendly version, since I am experimenting with that way eating.
In deconstructing this salad, it turns out many ingredients are big winners from a Plant Paradox perspective – Green mangoes (a good source of prebiotic fiber), lime, tiny dried shrimp (I love the high quality slightly chewy dried shrimp I find at the Bangkok Farmers Market and always keep a little jar of them in the fridge), cilantro, mint and fish sauce do not conflict with this way of eating.
There are three problematic (from a Plant Paradox perspective) ingredients:
- Thai bird chile peppers – These I’m afraid I need to be stubborn about and leave them in. I tried substituting with dried cayenne pepper, but it just wasn’t the same at all. I do carefully scrape the seeds out of the chiles before dropping the halves in the morter. And once the salad pounded out and on my plate, I push the chile peppers to the side (a habit of many Thais anyways) and just enjoy the residual heat that has applied to the green mangoes;
- Peanuts – actually, I dare say my substitute of toasted slivered almonds tastes even better; &
- Palm sugar – for this I give my new friend, erythritol, a chance.
There is another issue with this salad, though, and for me it’s an old one: finding the right green (as in, un-ripe) mango. Yes, it’s a luxury problem. Back in the Denver I’d be happy with any old green mango. Here though, there are scores of varieties. And just because you spy a green one in the market doesn’t mean it’s the right kind for yam (salad). Or so I’ve been told multiple times by Thai market venders, who know a thing or two about mangoes.
The best strategy I have come up with so far for finding the right mango is to walk around the market picking up green mangoes and asking in my best Thai, “yam mao muang dai mai?” That’s Thai baby-talk for, “Is this the correct type of mango with which to make yam mao muang?” Most of the time the answer is swiftly delivered with a shaking of the head and crossing back and forth of the hands and a “mai dai” repeated a few times, indicating that no, actually, I may not use this mango for yam mao muang. It’s all wrong you ridiculous foreigner. Insert sweet Thai smile + laughter.
The thing is, often a particular vender in the market will not have the right kind of mango nor will she or he be able to steer me to the person who does. In the end I am stuck and just look around for the most rock-hard green mango I can find. Then without asking anybody anything I buy it and turn it into this salad.
And you know what? Despite having made this dish with every possible wrong kind of green mango, it still always tastes great.
This is my current version that I love to make and eat on its own or preferably with a Thai omelet, or boiled eggs.
It varies from the traditional in the use of slivered almonds rather than peanuts, a sugar substitute rather than palm sugar and dried cayenne pepper rather than fresh birds eye chiles. These changes make the dish Plant Paradox friendly, and I personally love the flavor as much as ever.
- 1 rock hard green mango If you have the luxury of choice try to find a variety used in green mango salad
- 1/3 cuo thinly sliced shallots
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 1/4 cup mint leaves, roughly chopped
- 2 tsp lime juice
- 2 tsp fish sauce
- 2-3 tsp erythritol or preferred sweetener
- 1-2 Thai bird chile peppers halved and with the seeds scraped out
- 1/3 cup dry-pan roasted slivered almonds
- 1/3 cup quality dried shrimp optional
With an old fashioned vegetable peeler, remove the skin from your rock-hard green mango.
With a wavy peeler made for this purpose, shred the peeled green mango. Alternative is to try shredding with a mandoline, though you will likely not get as many shreds this way. The goal is to end up with matchstick like shards of any length.
Put the mango shreds into a mortar or bowl and add shallots, cilantro, mint, lime juice, fish sauce, erythritol and cayenne pepper. Pound up if using a mortar or firmly together with a spoon and fork (if using a bowl), taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. Depending on the tartness of the mango and juiciness of the lime, you may need to add more or less lime or sweetener. This dish is intended to be on the tart side (your main dish of eggs or fried fish or fried chicken will buffer that), but it's important to keep the enamel on your teeth.
When the dressing is as you like it, mix in the almonds and dried shrimp, if using.
Serve alongside eggs any which way; I love it next to a Thai or Western omelet or a crispy egg fried in grass-fed butter.