After a few years of less than stellar mango seasons, there seem to be mangoes everywhere this year. Trees, heavy with fruit, dot the urban landscape; arching over property lines, above our car as we drive to school, teasing us with sweet promise. You see, you cannot find these mangoes at the market. You have to know someone with a tree to get these mangoes. Luckily, my brother, who is visiting from NYC, came over from a friend’s house with an armful of mangoes. Most of them were green.
My mother grew up with mangoes. Enormous trees filled her childhood backyard. She tells us stories of getting sick from eating too many or itchy rashes from the thick sap. Her favorite way to eat green mango was to dip pieces in a mixture of shoyu (soy sauce), sugar and vinegar.
Years ago, I took a French cooking series at a local culinary school. As an aside, the chef mentioned a recipe for persimmon sambal, using persimmon, dried shrimp, chile and lime. I have made it many times, adding coconut milk and protein for a quick and delicious meal. This is my take on it with green mango, inspired by my mom’s favorite childhood snack. Enjoy with steamed rice or slices of toasted baguette, to soak up all the sauce. —gingerroot
For the Clams
1 lb fresh Manila clams
grated red onion (using the large holes on a box grater)
1 large garlic clove, minced
½ t whole cumin seed, toasted and crushed in a mortar and pestle
¾ cup sake
For the Green Mango Sambal
medium firm green mangoes (unripe to half ripe)
dried shrimp *
¼ cup hot water (to rehydrate shrimp)
4 whole kaffir lime leaves* (double lobed)
low sodium gluten free Tamari
1 1/2 tablespoons
distilled white vinegar
jalapeno, stem removed, quartered lengthwise (seeds removed if desired)
*can be found at an Asian market
In This Recipe
Inspect clams and discard any that are chipped or ones that are open and do not close after you tap them. Clean clams by placing them in a bowl of cold water for 30-60 minutes. Add a few good grinds of fresh black pepper to encourage clams to spit out more sand. When you are ready to cook them, remove clams by lifting out of the dirty water, scrub the shells and discard the water. Rinse out the bowl and replace clams. Place bowl near the stove.
While you are cleaning your clams, start your sambal. Using a sharp knife carefully cut the mango on either side of the large oval pit. You should have two meaty halves and a third piece with the pit. Score each half lengthwise and crosswise without cutting the skin. Make the fruit pop out and easy to cut from the skin by pressing the skin side up with your thumbs, while pulling the edges away from each other with your index fingers. Slice the fruit surrounding the pit by making long cuts (stem to end) on either side and making crosswise cuts to release the fruit (see photo). Place fruit (you should have about 2 cups) in the bowl of a food processor.
Rehydrate shrimp by placing in a small bowl and covering with ¼-cup hot water. Let shrimp soak for 10 minutes, then drain and add to mango.
Add the remaining sambal ingredients to the food processor and process until you have a paste, occasionally scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Make sure that there are no big chunks of shrimp or pieces of lime leaf. Remove bowl and place near stove.
Heat vegetable oil over medium heat in a sauté pan with a glass lid. Add grated red onion, garlic and cumin seed and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about a minute. Add sake, followed immediately by the cleaned clams. Cover pan and let clams steam for 7-10 minutes (liquid should be simmering), giving the pan a good shake once during cooking time.
Once all your clams have opened (discard any that have not opened) remove pan from heat and spoon in green mango sambal. Gently fold sambal into clams to combine. Serve immediately, with generous amounts of the sambal and starch of choice to soak it all up. Enjoy!
Note: The color and texture of your sambal will vary depending on type and ripeness of mango used. The first time I made this my mangoes were very green - the flesh was hard and sour - but it made a beautiful and delicious lighter colored sambal. The version in the photo was using half ripe mangoes - still very tart but with softer flesh, resulting in a more orange colored sambal. Either is fine, though I think I prefer very green mangoes in it. Just be sure to save your ripe mangoes for dessert!