Mango Lime Salsa has the perfect ingredients to zing. But it often fails to deliver. Salsa excels when the ingredients meld together and produce a flavor greater than their parts. I have solved the puzzle for Mango Lime Salsa, mine zings. My biggest secret? Well, I have a few, but the biggest is: Sweet Onions make this Mango Lime Salsa better. Read on for more.
Developing a better Mango Lime Salsa
To develop a better Mango Lime Salsa I set a number of criteria:
- Most importantly, the tastes have to meld together.
- Red onion, frequent in most recipes, has to go. It always seemed to be too strong.
- It needs to be salsa, meaning it needed to have some spicy and acidic punch.
- The mango is the star of this dish, the other ingredients have to enhance the mango
- Lime is the key ingredient that brings it all together, the recipe needs to make the most of it.
- It must be colorful and showy as a condiment.
My recipe meets all of these criteria by changing the ingredients and adapting the techniques.
Using my NLP techniques I found little guidance and help. Almost every recipe was exactly the same – producing the salsa that sounded good, but disappointed. It was clear this approach was not going to address my criteria. Therefore, I looked to two icons of Mexican and Southwestern cuisine for guidance.
Diana Kennedy devoted her life to Mexican cuisine. Studying early civilizations, the influences of the old world, and modern Mexican cuisines. Opinionated and a purist, she believed salsa was, “chilis, onions, cilantro, and tomato” – and nothing else. Although completely chastised by this, recognizing that she would completely disapprove of my efforts, I understood. At the heart of salsa, there are four flavors. You taste all of them together and the acidity brings them together — they work together. It is clear, I am replacing tomatoes with mangos — with significant repercussions.
Donna Nordin is an icon in Tucson, her Café Terra Cotta was a local institution; and her cookbooks, recipes, and classes are guides to Contemporary Southwest cuisine. She presents a Mango Salsa that is a bit different.
Her salsa uses four different types of peppers/chilis and no onions. I took two things from this. First, a diversity of tastes is created from four types of peppers and chilis. Included in the four peppers/chilis is red bell pepper (capsicum). The red bell pepper provides taste and color. Considering the lack of onions, I realize that this Mango Salsa is used as a condiment for a duck dish. Looking at the full preparation, it was clear that onions would be wrong for this duck dish. Conclusion: the right recipe for Mango Lime Salsa depends on the intended use. The second lesson was lime juice, plenty of it – bringing the acidity that will be missing from the removal of the tomato.
Notes of Ingredients for my Mango Lime Salsa
My recipe uses sweet onions. Sweet onion flavors blend instead standing out and work much better in this salsa than red onions. Very importantly, sweet onions have more moisture, helping the flavor melding process.
I complimented the standard jalapeños with poblano. Along with the red bell peppers, this produces a complexity of taste.
Increasing the diversity and amount of chilis and peppers means I have relatively less mango. I like this. The result is I have a salsa, not flavored mangos.
Sounds simple, but salt is necessary for this dish to make the flavors pop. I recommend salting to taste. In this case, I mean it literally. Taste, salt, taste again, and salt more if needed. Repeat until you are happy. Given the variability of the ingredients (the sweetness of mangos, the heat of the chilis) it is impossible to know in advance what you need.
The lime juice is going to add acidity, it will also “pickle” the chiles. Enough juice is absolutely required for the salsa to meld.
Notes on Techniques for My Mango Lime Salsa
Adjust to Use
The traditional term in recipes is to “Adjust to taste”, meaning adjust your ingredients to your taste. I suggest here the operative term is “Adjust to use”, how tangy, how sweet, and how hot the salsa should be depends on your intended use. Use my recipe as a starting point.
Let it rest
Through testing, I realized that the salsa needs to sit longer than the normally recommended 30 minutes. After mixing in a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least two hours. The extra time allows water to be released from the sweet onions and for the lime juice to work on the chilis somewhat like a pickling or ceviche result.
I have also found that preparing a day in advance is just fine.
- 2 ripe mangos
- 1/2 sweet onion, diced
- 1/2 jalapeño chili, seeded and diced
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 1/2 poblano chili, seeded and diced
- 1/4 cup lime juice (roughly 2 limes)
- 1 bunch of cilantro
- salt, to taste
- Dice the mango flesh. (see pointers here)
- Add the pepper/chilis and cilantro and mix well.
- Add the lime juice and mix.
- Taste and salt as needed.
- Cover, refrigerate, and let sit for at least 2 hours. Refigerate overnight if possible.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 63Total Fat: 0.4gSaturated Fat: 0.1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0.3gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 71mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 2gSugar: 13gProtein: 1.1g
Calculated Nutrition is estimated.