I recently tried Vietnamese sweet and sour mango salad at a dinner put on by students in the Culinary Arts program at Mercyhurst University. This is the school where I work; and which happens to have a great culinary program from which my son is a graduate. My husband, mother in law and I went. The students taking the World Cuisines class put on this dinner as part of one of their projects. Because I work at the school, I see right away what dinners are being offered, and when. As soon as I saw Vietnamese, I made reservations.
It's perfectly balanced
Immediately I fell in love with the flavors of Vietnamese sweet and sour mango salad. The flavor green mango salad profile is a perfect balance: not too sweet, not too sour. It's just right! My daughter who lives in Hanoi, Vietnam informed me that this dish is street food, people usually don't make it at home.
Having visited Vietnam last year, I was keenly aware that their culture strives to create dishes where no one flavor overpowers another one. It's all about balance.
We also enjoyed a bowl of pho, the typical Vietnamese soup, and an avocado ice cream with coconut. Both were delicious. I promise a recipe for the soup in the near future.
We found a Hanoian in Erie!
After dinner, Dat Le, the student in charge of the dinner made his rounds to talk to the customers. He is a native of Hanoi, and was thrilled to learn that we had visited his city. Of course one of my questions was: "How did you make this salad?" He explained to us the balance of flavors, and gave us a tip or two.
I am making Vietnamese sweet and sour mango salad for a dinner party. I have friends who will be traveling to Southeast Asia. They are going for 5 weeks, and Vietnam is on their itinerary. My daughter who lives in Vietnam happens to be visiting home and they want to meet her, learn more about the country, and of course the food. When I found out about their travel plans, I offered to host a dinner to give them an idea of what to expect food wise.
Go try Vietnamese food if you haven't!
If you've never had Vietnamese food, I suggest you start with my recipe for mango salad. It's really easy to make.
A culinary tip for the making of this dish:
The mango should not be overly ripe, you want it to have a certain firmness. If you are buying the entire fruit, you can gauge the ripeness by gently squeezing the mango on the palm of your hand. It should have a bit of give.If you are buying pre-cut mango you can gauge ripeness by the color. You need to get a mango that is bright yellow with no fading spots which is a sign of the fruit being underripe. And mango that is underripe will not have a lot of flavor.
Mangoes are such an interesting fruit, they are thought to be one of the oldest fruits with fossil records going back 25 million years. Cultivation didn't begin until about 4,000 years ago. There are also many varieties. When I was growing up my dad had 4 mango trees in our backyard. To this day are still producing fruit. Every year when I visit home in July, I feast on fresh mangoes every morning.
I encourage you to give this Vietnamese sweet and sour mango salad a try. I think you'll love it. Share the recipe with your friends too.
By the way, if you were wondering if there is a difference between rice vinegar, and rice wine vinegar, wonder no more! The two are one and the same. Rice vinegar is made with fermented rice wine. More fermentation turns it into acetic acid. The only difference then is the label.
If you are interested in trying other Vietnamese recipes, you might want to check these out.
Vietnamese Coconut Coffee; it's like drinkable dessert. Rich, Creamy and delicious.
Pho Tron, the summer version of Pho. It's like a beef noodle salad according to my daughter's Vietnamese friend.
Another drinkable dessert: egg coffee. It's not as odd as it sounds.
A rich and delicious dish of coconut pork is perfect for any occasion.
Vietnamese Beef Stew or Bo Sot Vang will knock all the beef stews you've ever tried out of the park. It's a popular winter dish in Hanoi
Vietnamese Spring Rolls or Cha Gio are delicious, crispy, mushroomy spring rolls that get dipped in a tangy sauce. My version is vegetarian but feel free to add ground pork.
Vietnamese Sweet and Sour Mango Salad
A tasty and easy to make Vietnamese dish. This sweet and sour mango salad is a feast for the taste buds. Sweet mango, with a tangy dressing, with cilantro, shallots, and crushed peanuts.
- 2 cups mangoes diced
- 2 Tbsp cilantro chopped
- 2 Tbsp shallots minced
- 2 Tbsp peanuts chopped
To make the dressing:
Place all of the ingredients in a bowl and whisk together.
To make the salad:
Toss all the ingredients except the peanuts in a bowl until well combined.
Slowly pour the dressing over the salad, and stir to coat well.
Sprinkle with the crushed peanuts.