Monday, November 14, 2011

Mango Habanero Salsa

I have something up my sleeve.  Thankfully, it's not a habanero.  But this awesome mango habanero salsa is part of it!  Stay tuned for the big reveal next Monday.  In the meantime, I'll tease you with a few hints.

Have you noticed a trend here?  You may have gathered that I enjoy Mexican food.  A LOT.  If you live in California (you lucky dog), you probably have access to some pretty darn tasty authentic Mexican.  If you live in Durham, NC, you can find some authentic Mexican food, but for the most part it's limited to food trucks, carnicerias (meat markets) and little hole in the wall spots that are pretty amazing if you can dedicate some time to making an adventure out of finding one.  And I hate to break it to you, but for the most part, you are not going to find truly authentic Mexican food (which can actually be quite healthy) at that Torrero's or Bandido's Mexican Restaurant downtown. 

One of the reasons I think Mexican food is so much fun is the crazy beautiful array of colors!  Check out this confetti-lookin' beauty:
Mango Habanero Salsa Fresca
Confession time:  I only used one habanero because I was a scared little baby.  You should use two.  I will certainly use two in my next batch, which I am making this very night.  Two batches in two days because I loved it just that much!  If you are feeding more than just a couple people, you might consider making a double batch.  Trust me, you will have no problem figuring out things to put it on.

1 mango, cut into a small dice
Juice of two limes
Pinch of sea salt
Small red onion, cut into a small dice
2 habanero peppers
2 handfuls fresh cilantro, chopped

First, you're going to want to deal with your mango.  If you've ever dealt with one, then you know the deal.  If not, let me give you a pointer or two.  Mangoes are not a straightforward fruit.  They are tricky and slippery little devils.  Peel your fruit for starters.  It should look like so-
Are you singing the "Rango" theme song while substituting the word "mango" for "Rango"?  Because you totally should.  It made my salsa better, and it can do the same for yours.  Try it- 
"Mang-o! Mang-OOO!"
Now you're ready for the tricky part.  Mangoes don't have a "pit," per se.  At least not in the way a peach or avocado does.  They just get really dense and fibrous and hard to cut in the middle.  This means you aren't going to get all the fruit off of it that you feel entitled to, and that's okay.  Know that it's frustrating for the rest of the world as well.  Just cut off what you can from the outsides, first in large slabs, then in smaller pieces as you get closer to the center.  Get what you can from it, then give the middle to some cool kid or messy adult to chew and suck on.  If they're feeling all Mexican about it, they'll squeeze some lime juice on it and dust it with chili powder because that's what all the cool kids do.  Dice your fruit and proceed to the next step.

Get out your latex gloves for some habanero handling.  No, I'm not joking.  If you do this with your bare hands because you think you have something to prove, then your proof of idiocy will be your burning hands that feel like you stuck them in to an unquenchable fiery furnace.  Enjoy that for the next several hours.

Cut the tops off those bad boys and strip them of their seeds, membranes and dignity.  If you like things a little spicier, feel free to leave some of the membrane in.  

Not only is the habanero one of the hottest peppers in the world, I feel it is also the cruelest.  Why?  Because it tastes so stinkin' fruity and delicious that you want to eat more of it, but you will be punished accordingly.  Give your charming and hateful pepper the fine dice treatment and toss it in a bowl with your diced mangoes.  Add your chopped red onion, cilantro and lime juice.  Add salt to taste.  Taste a couple times and be sure to add your salt a little at a time.  Like toothpaste, you can always add more, but you can't take it back.  You can eat this immediately, but it's going to be even more amazing after sitting in the fridge for a bit to let the flavors get to know one another.

Now, I highly recommend you do this with your salsa:

Toast one corn tortilla on a cast iron pan on your stove top or char it a little over a gas burner.
Mash half an avocado mixed with a squeeze of lime juice, a dash of hot sauce and salt with a fork.  
Top tortilla with avocado mash and a generous heap of your salsa.
Eat this standing up because there's no time to sit when it's this good and this fresh!

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JenMarie said...

Awesome! I HAVE always been afraid of using habanero's.

I will try to be brave and make this!! I didn't know that they are fruity and lovely. I thought they were just hot.

Melody Ann said...

Start with just one, but I think you'll be pleasantly surprised! This salsa is also great if you wanted to sub out the mango for some pineapple. Good luck!