Friday, June 19, 2009

Vietnamese Green Mango Salad

Recently, I have been craving Vietnamese Vegan dishes. I was inspired by my visit to a local Vietnamese Vegan/Vegetarian restaurant, Thuyen Vien, to prepare this dish. If you are in SoCal area, I really recommend this restaurant. Their dishes are authentic and the owner is very friendly and accommodating. It is a mom and pop, not a fancy vegan restaurant, but the food is out of the world!

After having a super delicious green mango salad in Thuyen Vien, I vowed to replicate it at home. It is not hard to find green mango in my area. I usually pick mangoes that are still firm and green in Asian or Indian markets nearby. If you cannot find green mangoes, you can use green apple such as Granny Smith. I even use 1 green apple in this recipe to add a crunchy texture.

It is also not that hard for me to find the fresh herbs used in Vietnamese cooking. I live near the so called Little Saigon of Orange County, California. The essential ingredient for this salad is a fresh herb called Vietnamese Coriander, the Vietnamese name is rau răm. I went on a special trip to a Vietnamese market just to get it. It is not available in the usual natural food markets I frequently shop at. If this is not available in your area, you can use fresh lemon verbena. Whatever you use for a substitution, choose a fresh herb that has lemony flavor and smell. I took a good picture of it so you can see how it looks like if you are able to find a Vietnamese market near you (you know that language barrier can be a problem shopping in such a market). Probably, you can also ask your local Vietnamese restaurant if they know where to buy it.

The ingredients of the salad are as follows (from left hand corner, clockwise): green mango, firm cucumber (English cucumber), carrots, jicama, green apple, chopped herbs (Vietnamese coriander and fresh mint leaves).

As you can see that the green mango is light yellowish and not white. During my growing up years, I was able to pick green mango from my own tree in the yard before it turned light yellow (a bit too ripe). However, for the purpose for this salad, since the mango was still firm, it was good enough.

The ingredients were all cut in julienne manner or match sticks. This is a chore. I used a food processor but then found out that it was not a good idea since this tool tends to make the ingredients juicy. I will investigate of a good mandolin that can perform julienne cut fruit and vegetable the way I want it. A julienne peeler did not do a good job since it cut too small. Don't worry since all the effort to cut all the vegetable and fruit is well worth it. This salad is so refreshing, spicy, light, healthy, and very low fat.

Another unique ingredient is young coconut juice. It is the water/juice and not milk, ok? If you can find a young coconut and get the juice out of it, that's great (recently we have lots of young coconuts in nearby Asian and natural food markets). Otherwise, I recommend the one in a can without added sugar and no pulp. I am using it in the veganized salad dressing (originally, this salad has fish sauce in its dressing).

Vietnamese Green Mango Salad
Serve 4-6

2 cups green mango, julienne cut (about 2 small green mango)
1 cup English cucumber, julienne cut
2 cups carrots, julienne cut
2 cups jicama, julienne cut (1 small jicama)
1 to 2 Granny Smith apple, julienne cut (about 1 to 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup Vietnamese Coriander, measure then chop
1/2 cup fresh mint, measure then chop

2 tablespoons fried shallot, omit for lower fat
3 tablespoons chopped unsalted peanuts, omit for lower fat
Sriracha hot sauce
Rice chips or crackers

Salad Dressing:
1/4 cup light soy sauce or Bragg's Liquid Amino
Note: refer to my blog about soy sauce I use
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 to 1/3 cup young coconut juice or vegetarian broth (room temperature)
1-2 tablespoons agave syrup
1-3 Thai chili or 1/2 jalapeno, chop finely (reduce amount for less spicy)
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic

  1. Combine all salad ingredients in a salad bowl or a large salad plate.
  2. Combine all the salad dressing ingredients. Adjust the lime juice and agave syrup so this dressing is a sweet, sour, and spicy. Add enough young coconut juice to make it about 1 cup. Make sure the dressing is mixed thoroughly.
  3. Just before ready to serve, pour the dressing over the salad and combine well.
  4. Add garnish on top of salad, serve immediately in a room temperature with rice crackers, papadum, and drizzle with Sriracha hot chili sauce, if desired.
While shopping in Vietnamese markets, I discovered Vietnamese rice crackers that is usually served with this kind of salad. The Vietnamese name is Bánh da .

It is made of rice flour, tapioca starch, salt, water, black sesame seetd, and peanut. In this case, it was covered with black sesame seeds. It is crispy like a large cracker about 12-inches diameter and is broken into pieces when it is served with the salad. A closer look:

I thought that this rice cracker is quite delicious with the salad or even just for snacking by itself. It reminds me of Indian papadums. I guess every culture has chips as snacks and this one is a great Vietnamese snacks. Here is how this salad is served: rice cracker on the bottom, top with salad, and drizzle with Sriracha hot sauce. I made sure that every bite has all 3.

This is our favorite salad. It can be a light meal by itself for a hot summer. I cannot describe how good is the combination of sour green mango and green apple, sweet carrots, crispy jicama and cucumber, spicy sweet and sour dressing, refreshing herbs, and crackling rice chips all together. It was a party in our mouth!


julie hasson said...

Yum Debbie!!

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Jen Treehugger said...

YUM! That looks and sounds so good. Light and refreshing and just perfect for these hot summer days. I'm always looking out for new Salad ideas - thanks for the recipe.

Unknown said...

Thank you Julie, Jeni, and Marshall!
I hope you can find green mango and rau ram in your area. I will be posting Vietnamese vegan dishes in the next few weeks. Vietnamese vegan dishes are low fat and healthy. It's just that sometimes it is hard to get the fresh ingredients since they uniquely use fresh Asian herbs. Other than Thai, Vietnamese cuisine is my favorite.

Thank you Marshall for the invite. I am honored to do so.

Anonymous said...

I really like your blog. I have been peaking around for past few months. I like that you showcase vegan dishes that represent where u are from. I am going a green mango chutney which is a little different than what u have done here. Look out for it this weekend on my blog. Can I add u to my blogroll?

Anonymous said...

Of course I cook spicy. My blog is very new. I dont know if you visited my other one before
That was my first blog. There are some recipes on it but not all are Caribbean.It was looking a mess so I decided to shut it down. I decided to open this new one strictly Caribbean. I will be posting some hot and spicy meals this weekend as I want to practice for an upcoming dinner party. Really nice to meet u .When I looked at your site I said to myself we eat some of the same foods even if we are from different regions. see u soon

Unknown said...

No, I have not visited the barbadianvegan site. Wow, I bookmarked it and will read some of your recipes. We've been to St Lucia but didn't try the local food while we were there cause we were in the resort. Would love to try to cook more Carribean food and add that to my ethnic list of vegan dishes. Yes we cook the same type of foods. Interesting!

There is one vegetarian Carribean restaurant in LA (they serve meat also) that we have not visited yet. You can read the review here:

Amanda said...

I love your blog Debbie! I'm going to look for these rice crackers this week. This kind of salad is perfect for the summer weather we are having now. And thanks for all the great info you posted with your comments on my blog. I was excited to hear about the other name for dragonfruit. I'm glad to hear that you liked it..I think I have to give it another try..maybe it just wasn't ripe when I tried it? And yay for trying the lemon bread. It really is like a pound cake. Did you try it with berries on the top? It's so good that way. I look forward to your next post..your blog feels like an exotic little vacation for it!

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